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Highly reproducible quantification of apoptotic cells using micropatterned culture of neurons

Lee, Hyun, Kim, Gyu Man, Choi, Jin Ho, Lee, Jong Kil, Bae, Jae-Sung, Jin, Hee Kyung
Analytical biochemistry 2015 v.469 pp. 65-70
apoptosis, cell culture, mice, neurodegenerative diseases, neurons, polydimethylsiloxane
The quantification of apoptotic cells is an integral component of many cell-based assays in biological studies. However, current methods for quantifying apoptotic cells using conventional random cultures have shown great limitations, especially for the quantification of primary neurons. Randomly distributed neurons under primary culture conditions can lead to biased estimates, and vastly different estimates of cell numbers can be produced within the same experiment. In this study, we developed a simple, accurate, and reliable technique for quantifying apoptotic neurons by means of micropatterned cell cultures. A polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) microstencil was used as a physical mask for micropatterning cell cultures, and primary granular neurons (GNs) were successfully cultured within the micropattern-confined regions and homogeneously distributed over the entire field of each pattern. As compared with the conventional method based on random cultures, the micropatterned culture method allowed for highly reproducible quantification of apoptotic cells. These results were also confirmed by using GNs derived from mice with neurodegeneration. We hope that this micropatterning method based on the use of a PDMS microstencil can overcome the technical obstacles existing in current biological studies and will serve as a powerful tool for facilitating the study of apoptosis-involved diseases.