UNIT 3.3 Culture of Substantia Nigra Neurons

  1. Lorenz Studer

Published Online: 1 MAY 2001

DOI: 10.1002/0471142301.ns0303s00

Current Protocols in Neuroscience

Current Protocols in Neuroscience

How to Cite

Studer, L. 2001. Culture of Substantia Nigra Neurons. Current Protocols in Neuroscience. 00:3.3:3.3.1–3.3.12.

Author Information

  1. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Bethesda, Maryland

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 MAY 2001
  2. Published Print: SEP 1997


Primary cultures of nigral tissue are widely used as a model system to assay effects of trophic and toxic agents on dopaminergic neurons. Cultured dopaminergic neurons have been successfully transplanted in animals and led to behavioral improvement in animal models of Parkinson's disease. Cell cultures have also been used to study the development of substantia nigra, allowing investigators to identify early inductive events important for nigral development and to study dopaminergic differentiation and target innervation. This unit provides simple and reliable culture protocols for these applications. The first approach presented is the preparation of dissociated nigral cell cultures, the later steps of which can be used as a simple and efficient assay for testing growth factors. A second approach is the preparation of free-floating roller tube cultures, which may be used as a tool for neural transplantation and to study more complex developmental events. A third approach is the production of organotypic cultures using chicken plasma as a matrix. Organotypic cultures can maintain the in vivo cytoarchitecture of a host region in vitro.