Neuroscience


Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 3828 Views Jul 20, 2021

Microglia are a unique type of tissue-resident innate immune cell found within the brain, spinal cord, and retina. In the healthy nervous system, their main functions are to defend the tissue against infectious microbes, support neuronal networks through synapse remodeling, and clear extracellular debris and dying cells through phagocytosis. Many existing microglia isolation protocols require the use of enzymatic tissue digestion or magnetic bead-based isolation steps, which increase both the time and cost of these procedures and introduce variability to the experiment. Here, we report a protocol to generate single-cell suspensions from freshly harvested murine brains or spinal cords, which efficiently dissociates tissue and removes myelin debris through simple mechanical dissociation and density centrifugation and can be applied to rat and non-human primate tissues. We further describe the importance of including empty channels in downstream flow cytometry analyses of microglia single-cell suspensions to accurately assess the expression of protein targets in this highly autofluorescent cell type. This methodology ensures that observed fluorescence signals are not incorrectly attributed to the protein target of interest by appropriately taking into account the unique autofluorescence of this cell type, a phenomenon already present in young animals and that increases with aging to levels that are comparable to those observed with antibodies against highly abundant antigens.

0 Q&A 2726 Views Jul 5, 2021

Immunofluorescence is a reliable method for identifying specific proteins in neuronal and glial cell populations of the hypothalamus. Several immunofluorescence protocols are available to detect protein markers and neuropeptides in the hypothalamus; however, published methods may vary in subtle details that can potentially impact the final outcome of the procedure. Here, we provide a detailed protocol suitable for thin cryostat sections, which has been successful for specific antibodies directed against key markers of hypothalamic neurons and glial cells. We include every detail concerning brain tissue collection, processing, sectioning, and labeling with optimal dilutions of antibodies with the aim of reducing non-specific background. Our background-optimized immunostaining protocol has been routinely used in the lab and allows efficient detection of specific neuropeptides, glial cells, and markers of inflammation and endoplasmic reticulum stress in the hypothalamus.

0 Q&A 5270 Views Apr 20, 2019
Microglia are the resident immune cells of the central nervous system (CNS). In the last year, the improvements in the transgenic mouse technologies and imaging techniques have shed light on microglia functions under physiological conditions. Microglia continuously scan the brain parenchyma with their highly motile processes, maintaining tissue homeostasis and participating in neuronal circuits refinement. Here, we describe a protocol that enables us to perform time-lapse imaging of microglial cells in acute hippocampal slices, making image acquisition possible on an electrophysiology rig equipped with a standard imaging system. Using this ex vivo approach, we investigated microglial processes scanning abilities under physiological condition in hippocampus.
0 Q&A 10564 Views Aug 20, 2018
Microglia reside in the central nervous system (CNS) and are involved in the maintenance of the physiologic state. They constantly survey their environment for pathologic alterations associated with injury or diseases. For decades, researchers have investigated the role of microglia under different pathologic conditions, using approaches aiming to inhibit or eliminate these phagocytic cells. However, until recently, methods have failed to achieve complete depletion. Moreover, treatments often affected other cells, making unequivocal conclusions from these studies difficult. Recently, we have shown that inhibition of colony stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R) by oral treatment with PLX5622 containing chow enables complete depletion of retinal microglia and almost complete microglia depletion in the optic nerve without affecting peripheral macrophages or other cells. Using this approach, we investigated the role of microglia in neuroprotection in the retina and axon regeneration in the injured optic nerve under different conditions. Thus, this efficient, reliable and easy to use protocol presented here will enable researchers to unequivocally study the contribution of microglia on neurodegeneration and axon regeneration. This protocol can be also easily expanded to other paradigms of acute and chronic injury or diseases in the visual system.



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