Brain tissue kept alive for 25 days

When examining the tissues of a body in the laboratory, it is necessary to detach them from the body itself and place them in a liquid culture so that they remain “alive” for a few hours or at most for a few days. However, the tissue can easily dry out, “drown” in the liquid itself or otherwise be damaged and is no longer suitable for experimentation. This is all the more true for brain tissue, which is even more sensitive than other tissues.

Now, a research group at the RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research has published an interesting new study on analytical sciences.

The researchers claim to have developed a new system that uses a new microfluidic device to prevent the tissue itself from drying out and becoming damaged. This system has already been tested by researchers on mouse brain tissue that is still viable after one month in culture. This period is much longer than other methods of tissue culture, at least on average.

The microfluidic device used by the researchers is based on polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), a material already used as an antifoam agent in various drugs. In this system, instead of always immersing the tissue in the liquid, the tissue can benefit from the culture medium circulating within a microchannel through a permeable membrane. Essentially, a correct gas exchange was achieved and thus a longer resistance of the tissue to biodegradable substances was achieved.

With this system, they cultivated in the laboratory tissues from the suprachiasmatic nucleus, an area of the hypothalamus, the brain of mice. These tissues remained alive in laboratory culture for more than 25 days: The researchers were able to verify this by measuring their bioluminescence, values that indicated that they were still functional and had circadian activity.

In conventional culture, the neuronal activity of these tissues decreases after only 10 hours instead of 6%.