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Endogenous amyloidogenesis in long-term rat hippocampal cell cultures

Sarah J Bertrand*, Marina V Aksenova, Micheal Y Aksenov, Charles F Mactutus and Rosemarie M Booze

Author affiliations

University of South Carolina, Program in Behavioral Neuroscience, Department of Psychology, Columbia, SC 29208, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Neuroscience 2011, 12:38  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-12-38

Published: 10 May 2011



Long-term primary neuronal cultures are a useful tool for the investigation of biochemical processes associated with neuronal senescence. Improvements in available technology make it possible to observe maturation of neural cells isolated from different regions of the rodent brain over a prolonged period in vitro. Existing experimental evidence suggests that cellular aging occurs in mature, long-term, primary neuronal cell cultures. However, detailed studies of neuronal development in vitro are needed to demonstrate the validity of long-term cell culture-based models for investigation of the biochemical mechanisms of in vitro neuronal development and senescence.


In the current study, neuron-enriched hippocampal cell cultures were used to analyze the differentiation and degeneration of hippocampal neurons over a two month time period. The expression of different neuronal and astroglial biomarkers was used to determine the cytochemical characteristics of hippocampal cells in long-term cultures of varying ages. It was observed that the expression of the intermediate filament nestin was absent from cultures older than 21 days in vitro (DIV), and the expression of neuronal or astrocytic markers appeared to replace nestin. Additionally, morphological evaluations of neuronal integrity and Hoescht staining were used to assess the cellular conditions in the process of hippocampal culture development and aging. It was found that there was an increase in endogenous production of Aβ1-42 and an increase in the accumulation of Congo Red-binding amyloidal aggregates associated with the aging of neurons in primary culture. In vitro changes in the morphology of co-existing astrocytes and cell culture age-dependent degeneration of neurodendritic network resemble features of in vivo brain aging at the cellular level.


In conclusion, this study suggests that long-term primary CNS culture is a viable model for the study of basic mechanisms and effective methods to decelerate the process of neuronal senescence.

Cell Culture; Amyloid Peptide; Neurodegeneration/Aging