Neuroscience hero

Live-cell imaging
in neuroscience research

  • Neuroscience

Neuroscience is the multidisciplinary study of the structure and function of the nervous system. There are two main cell types within the nervous system, neurons and glial cells. The complex branched morphologies of neurons and glial cells, their elaborate connectivity, and their intricate subcellular processes present challenges for researchers who are interested in studying the nervous system. Scientists have developed a plethora of methods, especially within the field of microscopy, that overcome the technical hurdles and enable the visualization and quantification of cells within the nervous system in health and disease.

Live-cell imaging has become a useful tool for studying the physiology of neurons and glial cells in health and disease. Scientific advances in this area have improved our understanding of the pathogenesis of diseases of the nervous system, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

Omni incubator cropped
Live-cell imaging for high-throughput experiments

Many neurodegenerative diseases are associated with the loss of neurons. Understanding the sequence of events that lead to cell death is imperative for disease research. By analyzing the health of neurons over time under different conditions neuroscientists can identify neuroprotective and/or neurotoxic events. The CytoSMART Omni, which can scan full flask surfaces, uses time-lapse imaging to continuously monitor neurons for up to weeks at a time. This system negates the need to fix or stain cells meaning it can be used to study the time-dependent effects of different therapeutic treatments in real time and from within the culture environment.

Brain organoids — 3D cell cultures in neuroscience research

3D cell cultures of brain organoids, which are derived from embryonic stem cells and pluripotent stem cells, mimic the brain more accurately than traditional 2D cell cultures. Brain organoids are used by neuroscientists to investigate brain development and function, disease pathogenesis and gene expression. The CytoSMART Lux3 FL fluorescence imaging microscope has been adapted to automatically generate time-lapse movies from inside the incubator. This system can be used to track the expression of fluorescent proteins within cultures without disturbing the organoids.

Automated monitoring for primary cell cultures

Hands-off microscopy

Lux2 Monitoring

Primary cell cultures are an excellent model for studying the normal physiology of cells and how cells respond to disease. The process of culturing primary cells requires patience and careful monitoring to ensure the cells are growing optimally and to avoid overgrowth-related stress. Traditional monitoring methods require the cells to be removed from the culture environment on numerous occasions. The CytoSMART Lux2 is ideal for keeping track of cell cultures from within the incubator. Researchers can use this system to track current confluence levels in real time, which can help ensure flasks are split before over-growth occurs.

Cyto SMART Lux3 FL fluorescence
Fluorescence live-cell microscopy in neuroscience research

By studying how the different cells within the brain interact, neuroscientists can gain insight into many diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. The complex morphology of brain cells makes studying cell-cell interactions difficult. Fluorescence microscopy has had a pivotal role in defining the interactions between neurons and other brain cells. Live-cell imaging systems, such as the CytoSMART Lux3 FL fluorescence imaging system, can gather kinetic data in real time from inside an incubator. This system enables neuroscientists to track cell-cell interactions without needing to disrupt the cells or remove them from their culture environment.

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