Robust Generation of Person-Specific, Synchronously Active Neuronal Networks Using Purely Isogenic Human iPSC-3D Neural Aggregate Cultures.
ABSTRACT: Reproducibly generating human induced pluripotent stem cell-based functional neuronal circuits, solely obtained from single individuals, poses particular challenges to achieve personalized and patient specific functional neuronal in vitro models. A hallmark of functional neuronal assemblies, synchronous neuronal activity, can be non-invasively studied by microelectrode array (MEA) technology, reliably capturing physiological and pathophysiological aspects of human brain function. In our here presented manuscript, we demonstrate a procedure to generate 3D neural aggregates comprising astrocytes, oligodendroglial cells, and neurons obtained from the same human tissue sample. Moreover, we demonstrate the robust ability of those neurons to create a highly synchronously active neuronal network within 3 weeks in vitro, without additionally applied astrocytes. The fusion of MEA-technology with functional neuronal circuits solely obtained from one individual's cells represent isogenic person-specific human neuronal sensor chips that pave the way for specific personalized in vitro neuronal networks as well as neurological and neuropsychiatric disease modeling.
Project description:Precise creation, maintenance, and monitoring of neuronal circuits would facilitate the investigation of subjects such as neuronal development or synaptic plasticity, or assist in the development of neuronal prosthetics. Here we present a method to precisely control the placement of multiple types of neuronal retinal cells onto a commercially available multiple electrode array (MEA), using custom-built optical tweezers. We prepared the MEAs by coating a portion of the MEA with a non-adhesive substrate (Poly (2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate)), and the electrodes with an adhesive cell growth substrate. We then dissociated the retina of adult tiger salamanders, plated them onto prepared MEAs, and utilized the optical tweezers to create retinal circuitry mimicking in vivo connections. In our hands, the optical tweezers moved ~75% of photoreceptors, bipolar cells, and multipolar cells, an average of ~2000 micrometers, at a speed of ~16 micrometers/second. These retinal circuits were maintained in vitro for seven days. We confirmed electrophysiological activity by stimulating the photoreceptors with the MEA and measuring their response with calcium imaging. In conclusion, we have developed a method of utilizing optical tweezers in conjunction with MEAs that allows for the design and maintenance of custom neural circuits for functional analysis.
Project description:Evidence suggests that astrocytes play key roles in structural and functional organization of neuronal circuits. To understand how astrocytes influence the physiopathology of cerebellar circuits, we cultured cells from cerebella of mice that lack the ATM gene. Mutations in ATM are causative of the human cerebellar degenerative disease ataxia-telangiectasia. Cerebellar cultures grown from Atm-/- mice had disrupted network synchronization, atrophied astrocytic arborizations, reduced autophagy levels, and higher numbers of synapses per neuron than wild-type cultures. Chimeric circuitries composed of wild-type astrocytes and Atm-/- neurons were indistinguishable from wild-type cultures. Adult cerebellar characterizations confirmed disrupted astrocyte morphology, increased GABAergic synaptic markers, and reduced autophagy in Atm-/- compared with wild-type mice. These results indicate that astrocytes can impact neuronal circuits at levels ranging from synaptic expression to global dynamics.
Project description:After brain injury, neural stem cell-derived neuronal precursors (neuroblasts) in the ventricular-subventricular zone migrate toward the lesion. However, the ability of the mammalian brain to regenerate neuronal circuits for functional recovery is quite limited. Here, using a mouse model for ischemic stroke, we show that neuroblast migration is restricted by reactive astrocytes in and around the lesion. To migrate, the neuroblasts use Slit1-Robo2 signaling to disrupt the actin cytoskeleton in reactive astrocytes at the site of contact. Slit1-overexpressing neuroblasts transplanted into the poststroke brain migrated closer to the lesion than did control neuroblasts. These neuroblasts matured into striatal neurons and efficiently regenerated neuronal circuits, resulting in functional recovery in the poststroke mice. These results suggest that the positioning of new neurons will be critical for functional neuronal regeneration in stem/progenitor cell-based therapies for brain injury.
Project description:Parkinson's disease is characterized by loss of dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra<sup>1</sup>. Similar to other major neurodegenerative disorders, there are no disease-modifying treatments for Parkinson's disease. While most treatment strategies aim to prevent neuronal loss or protect vulnerable neuronal circuits, a potential alternative is to replace lost neurons to reconstruct disrupted circuits<sup>2</sup>. Here we report an efficient one-step conversion of isolated mouse and human astrocytes to functional neurons by depleting the RNA-binding protein PTB (also known as PTBP1). Applying this approach to the mouse brain, we demonstrate progressive conversion of astrocytes to new neurons that innervate into and repopulate endogenous neural circuits. Astrocytes from different brain regions are converted to different neuronal subtypes. Using a chemically induced model of Parkinson's disease in mouse, we show conversion of midbrain astrocytes to dopaminergic neurons, which provide axons to reconstruct the nigrostriatal circuit. Notably, re-innervation of striatum is accompanied by restoration of dopamine levels and rescue of motor deficits. A similar reversal of disease phenotype is also accomplished by converting astrocytes to neurons using antisense oligonucleotides to transiently suppress PTB. These findings identify a potentially powerful and clinically feasible approach to treating neurodegeneration by replacing lost neurons.
Project description:The signaling diversity of GABAergic interneurons to post-synaptic neurons is crucial to generate the functional heterogeneity that characterizes brain circuits. Whether this diversity applies to other brain cells, such as the glial cells astrocytes, remains unexplored. Using optogenetics and two-photon functional imaging in the adult mouse neocortex, we here reveal that parvalbumin- and somatostatin-expressing interneurons, two key interneuron classes in the brain, differentially signal to astrocytes inducing weak and robust GABAB receptor-mediated Ca2+ elevations, respectively. Furthermore, the astrocyte response depresses upon parvalbumin interneuron repetitive stimulations and potentiates upon somatostatin interneuron repetitive stimulations, revealing a distinguished astrocyte plasticity. Remarkably, the potentiated response crucially depends on the neuropeptide somatostatin, released by somatostatin interneurons, which activates somatostatin receptors at astrocytic processes. Our study unveils, in the living brain, a hitherto unidentified signaling specificity between interneuron subtypes and astrocytes opening a new perspective into the role of astrocytes as non-neuronal components of inhibitory circuits.
Project description:Astrocytes, the most abundant and structurally complex glial cells of the central nervous system, are proposed to play an important role in modulating the activities of neuronal networks, including respiratory rhythm-generating circuits of the preBötzinger complex (preBötC) located in the ventrolateral medulla of the brainstem. However, structural properties of astrocytes residing within different brainstem regions are unknown. In this study astrocytes in the preBötC, an intermediate reticular formation (IRF) region with respiratory-related function, and a region of the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS) in adult rats were reconstructed and their morphological features were compared. Detailed morphological analysis revealed that preBötC astrocytes are structurally more complex than those residing within the functionally distinct neighboring IRF region, or the NTS, located at the dorsal aspect of the medulla oblongata. Structural analyses of the brainstem microvasculature indicated no significant regional differences in vascular properties. We hypothesize that high morphological complexity of preBötC astrocytes reflects their functional role in providing structural/metabolic support and modulation of the key neuronal circuits essential for breathing, as well as constraints imposed by arrangements of associated neurons and/or other local structural features of the brainstem parenchyma.
Project description:Glucose is the primary energetic substrate of the brain, and measurements of its metabolism are the basis of major functional cerebral imaging methods. Contrary to the general view that neurons are fueled solely by glucose in proportion to their energetic needs, recent in vitro and ex vivo analyses suggest that glucose preferentially feeds astrocytes. However, the cellular fate of glucose in the intact brain has not yet been directly observed. We have used a real-time method for measuring glucose uptake in astrocytes and neurons in vivo in male rats by imaging the trafficking of the nonmetabolizable glucose analog 6-deoxy-N-(7-nitrobenz-2-oxa-1,3-diazol-4-yl)-aminoglucose (6-NBDG) using two-photon microscopy. During resting conditions we found that astrocytes and neurons both take up 6-NBDG at the same rate in the barrel cortex of the rat. However, during intense neuronal activity triggered by whisker stimulation, astrocytes rapidly accelerated their uptake, whereas neuronal uptake remained almost unchanged. After the stimulation period, astrocytes returned to their preactivation rates of uptake paralleling the neuronal rate of uptake. These observations suggest that glucose is taken up primarily by astrocytes, supporting the view that functional imaging experiments based on glucose analogs extraction may predominantly reflect the metabolic activity of the astrocytic network.
Project description:Adverse experiences during childhood are among the most prominent risk factors for developing mood and anxiety disorders later in life. Early-life stress interventions have been established as suitable models to study the neurobiological basis of childhood adversity in rodents. Different models such as maternal separation, impaired maternal care and juvenile stress during the postweaning/prepubertal life phase are utilized. Especially within the limbic system, they induce lasting alterations in neuronal circuits, neurotransmitter systems, neuronal architecture and plasticity that are further associated with emotional and cognitive information processing. Recent studies found that astrocytes, a special group of glial cells, have altered functions following early-life stress as well. As part of the tripartite synapse, astrocytes interact with neurons in multiple ways by affecting neurotransmitter uptake and metabolism, by providing gliotransmitters and by providing energy to neurons within local circuits. Thus, astrocytes comprise powerful modulators of neuronal plasticity and are well suited to mediate the long-term effects of early-life stress on neuronal circuits. In this review, we will summarize current findings on altered astrocyte function and hippocampal plasticity following early-life stress. Highlighting studies for astrocyte-related plasticity modulation as well as open questions, we will elucidate the potential of astrocytes as new targets for interventions against stress-induced neuropsychiatric disorders.
Project description:We have recently demonstrated that reactive glial cells can be directly reprogrammed into functional neurons by a single neural transcription factor, NeuroD1. Here we report that a combination of small molecules can also reprogram human astrocytes in culture into fully functional neurons. We demonstrate that sequential exposure of human astrocytes to a cocktail of nine small molecules that inhibit glial but activate neuronal signaling pathways can successfully reprogram astrocytes into neurons in 8-10 days. This chemical reprogramming is mediated through epigenetic regulation and involves transcriptional activation of NEUROD1 and NEUROGENIN2. The human astrocyte-converted neurons can survive for >5 months in culture and form functional synaptic networks with synchronous burst activities. The chemically reprogrammed human neurons can also survive for >1 month in the mouse brain in vivo and integrate into local circuits. Our study opens a new avenue using chemical compounds to reprogram reactive glial cells into functional neurons.
Project description:Astrocytes are implicated in modulation of neuronal excitability and synaptic function, but it remains unknown if these glial cells can directly control activities of motor circuits to influence complex behaviors in vivo. This study focused on the vital respiratory rhythm-generating circuits of the preBötzinger complex (preBötC) and determined how compromised function of local astrocytes affects breathing in conscious experimental animals (rats). Vesicular release mechanisms in astrocytes were disrupted by virally driven expression of either the dominant-negative SNARE protein or light chain of tetanus toxin. We show that blockade of vesicular release in preBötC astrocytes reduces the resting breathing rate and frequency of periodic sighs, decreases rhythm variability, impairs respiratory responses to hypoxia and hypercapnia, and dramatically reduces the exercise capacity. These findings indicate that astrocytes modulate the activity of CNS circuits generating the respiratory rhythm, critically contribute to adaptive respiratory responses in conditions of increased metabolic demand and determine the exercise capacity.