Preparing E18 Cortical Rat Neurons for Compartmentalization in a Microfluidic
Joseph Harris1, Hyuna Lee1, Christina Tu Tu2, David Cribbs3, Carl Cotman3, Noo Li Jeon1
1Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of California, Irvine
2Stem Cell Research Center, University of California, Irvine
3Institute for Brain Aging and Dementia, University of California, Irvine
Correspondence to: Joseph Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org
Citation: Harris J., Lee H., Tu C.T., Cribbs D., Cotman C., Jeon N.L. (2007). Preparing E18 Cortical Rat Neurons for Compartmentalization in a Microfluidic Device. JoVE. 8.
http://www.jove.com/index/Details.stp?ID=305, doi: 10.3791/305
In this video, we demonstrate the preparation of E18 cortical rat neurons. E18 cortical rat neurons are obtained from E18 fetal rat cortex previously
dissected and prepared. The E18 cortex is, upon dissection, immediately dissociated into individual neurons. It is possible to store E18 cortex in
Hibernate E buffer containing B27 at 4°C for up to a week before the dissociation is performed. However, there will be a drop in cell viability.
Typically we obtain our E18 Cortex fresh. It is transported to the lab in ice cold Calcium free Magnesium free dissection buffer (CMFM). Upon
arrival, trypsin is added to the cortex to a final concentration of 0.125%. The cortex is then incubated at 37°C for 8 minutes. DMEM containing 10%
FBS is added to the cortex to stop the reaction. The cortex is then centrifuged at 2500 rpm for 2 minutes. The supernatant is removed and 2 ml of
Neural Basal Media (NBM) containing 2% B27 (vol/vol) and 0.25% Glutamax (vol/vol) is added to the cortex which is then re-suspended by pipetting
up and down. Next, the cortex is triturated with previously fire polished glass pipettes, each with a successive smaller opening. After triturating, the
cortex is once again centrifuged at 2500 rpm for 2 minutes. The supernatant is then removed and the cortex pellet re-suspended with 2 ml of NBM
containing B27 and Glutamax. The cell suspension is then passed through a 40 um nylon cell strainer. Next the cells are counted. The neurons are
now ready for loading into the neuron microfluidic device.
Preparing E18 Fetal Rat Cortical Neurons for Compartmentalization
Before starting out, it is important to warm all necessary media and reagents to 37°C.
It is also important to sterilize everything that is used for preparing the cells (e.g., rubber bulbs, tube racks, media bottles, etc.), and that which is
placed in the hood, by wiping down with 70% ethanol.
Note: the final concentration of cells is typically between 2.5 million cells/ml and 8 million cells/ml
Loading the cells
After the cells have been counted, it is time to load the cells in the device:
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1.Place two pieces of E18 Fetal Rat Cortex (one brain, previously dissected) in a 15 ml tube containing 1 ml ice-cold Calcium-free
Magnesium-free dissection buffer.
Add 1 ml of 0.25% Trypsin-EDTA to the cortex in dissection buffer, bringing the final volume to 2 ml and final trypsin concentration to 0.125%.
Place the 15 ml tube in a 37°C water bath for 8 minutes.
During this time, fire polish 3 glass Pasteur pipets, forming successively smaller openings, in a biosafety cabinet to help maintain sterility.
After the 8 minute incubation of the cortex, add 10 ml of DMEM containing 10% FBS to the cortex to help stop the trypsin reaction.
Centrifuge the 15 ml tube containing the cortex and DMEM/10% FBS at 2500 rpm for 2 minutes.
In the biosafety cabinet, remove the supernatant from the cortex using a glass Pasteur pipet with vacuum suction attached. Be careful not to
disturb or dislodge the pellet.
Add 1 ml of NMB to the cortex pellet and gently pipet up and down. It is very important to avoid creating air bubbles while pipeting up and
down, as the air bubbles can damage the cells by oxidation.
Use the fire-polished Pasteur pipet with the widest opening to triturate the cortex by attaching a sterile rubber bulb to the end and pipeting up
and down 5 times, again being careful not to introduce air bubbles. Continue this process with the other 2 glass pipets, each with a decreased
10. After trituration, centrifuge down the cells again at 2500 rpm for 2 minutes.
11. After centrifugation, once again remove the supernatant and resuspend the cell pellet in 2 ml of NBM.
12. Filter the resuspended cell solution through a 45 um cell strainer.
13. Stain the cells with Trypan Blue, counted, and loaded into the devices. We typically load 20 ul of cells per device.
Bring the previously prepared devices containing NBM into the biosafety cabinet to maintain sterility.
Remove excess media from the wells by vacuum suction. However, be careful to avoid removing all of the media -- there must be some
media in the main channel.
Apply 20 ul of cells to the top left hand reservoir of the device (see diagram if necessary). The cells flow into the device and attach to the PLL
After loading, place the devices containing cells back in an incubator for 10 minutes to allow the cells to attach.