Cytometry in the brain: studying differentiation to diagnostic applications in brain disease and regeneration therapy



During brain development, a population of uniform embryonic cells migrates and differentiates into a large number of neural phenotypes – origin of the enormous complexity of the adult nervous system. Processes of cell proliferation, differentiation and programmed death of no longer required cells, do not occur only during embryogenesis, but are also maintained during adulthood and are affected in neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disease states. As neurogenesis is an endogenous response to brain injury, visible as proliferation (of to this moment silent stem or progenitor cells), its further stimulation can present a treatment strategy in addition to stem cell transfer for cell regeneration therapy. Concise techniques for studying such events in vitro and in vivo permit understanding of underlying mechanisms. Detection of subtle physiological alterations in brain cell proliferation and neurogenesis can be explored, that occur during environmental stimulation, exercise and ageing. Here, we have collected achievements in the field of basic research on applications of cytometry, including automated imaging for quantification of morphological or fluorescence-based parameters in cell cultures, towards imaging of three-dimensional brain architecture together with DNA content and proliferation data. Multi-parameter and more recently in vivo flow cytometry procedures, have been developed for quantification of phenotypic diversity and cell processes that occur during brain development as well as in adulthood, with importance for therapeutic approaches.