Development of an in vitro model of neuroinflammation for studying secondary injury mechanisms in traumatic brain injury
Shoemaker, James Thomas
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A novel cell culture system was designed to serve as a model of neuroinflammation. Neurons, astrocytes, and microglia derived from embryonic and perinatal rat cortical tissue were combined in a three-dimensional hydrogel utilizing a method that facilitated cell maturation and viability. Chemical challenge of the cultures with a broad pro-inflammatory stimulus resulted in the production of inflammatory cytokines and other associated molecules commensurate with the response observed in vivo and in other in vitro systems. It was hypothesized that mechanical deformation of the multitypic neural cell cultures would produce a similar response and thus validate the system as an in vitro model of traumatic brain injury-induced neuroinflammation. Mechanical injury delivered using custom-manufactured culture chambers and injury devices successfully imparted a moderate level of cell death to the cultures. It was determined that a mechanically-induced inflammatory response required chemical stimulation prior to the injury. The research presented here describes the generation and characterization of a novel in vitro culture system and its implementation in experiments designed to model secondary injury mechanisms associated with injury-induced neuroinflammation. The findings of these studies, applications of the culture system, and future research avenues are discussed.