Monitoring Neuronal Survival via Longitudinal Fluorescence Microscopy.


Department of Neurology, University of Michigan School of Medicine; Neuroscience Graduate Program, University of Michigan School of Medicine; [Email]


Standard cytotoxicity assays, which require the collection of lysates or fixed cells at multiple time points, have limited sensitivity and capacity to assess factors that influence neuronal fate. These assays require the observation of separate populations of cells at discrete time points. As a result, individual cells cannot be followed prospectively over time, severely limiting the ability to discriminate whether subcellular events, such as puncta formation or protein mislocalization, are pathogenic drivers of disease, homeostatic responses, or merely coincidental phenomena. Single-cell longitudinal microscopy overcomes these limitations, allowing the researcher to determine differences in survival between populations and draw causal relationships with enhanced sensitivity. This video guide will outline a representative workflow for experiments measuring single-cell survival of rat primary cortical neurons expressing a fluorescent protein marker. The viewer will learn how to achieve high-efficiency transfections, collect and process images enabling the prospective tracking of individual cells, and compare the relative survival of neuronal populations using Cox proportional hazards analysis.