, Volume 83, Issue 4, pp 397-403

The use of Fluoro-Jade in primary neuronal cell cultures

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Abstract

Fluoro-Jade (FJ) and its derivatives are widely used for histological staining of neurons undergoing neurodegeneration. With this dye, the entire structure of these neurons can be stained in a fast and reliable way in histopathological slices of the brain, with results comparable to those obtained with other methods such as the Nissle technique or silver staining. The question arose as to whether this method might be useful for in vitro neuronal cell cultures. Primary cortical neuronal cell cultures have been used as a sensitive and reliable system to detect compounds which induce neurodegenerative lesions (Schmuck et al. 2000). Additionally, various biochemical endpoints in this system allow the mode of action of these compounds to be identified. The target mechanism of FJ staining is unknown, and it may therefore be useful to compare FJ staining with one of the central endpoints in compound-induced neurodegeneration, interaction with the cytoskeleton as demonstrated by accumulations of neurofilaments (200 kD). Cortical neuronal cells were cultivated under standardized serum-free conditions. Once they had developed a stable network, the cells were treated with acrylamide, mipafox, diethyldithiocarbamate, glutamate, paraquat, paraoxon, and IDPN (ß,ß-imino dipropionitrile) for 7 days in the concentration range of 0.1–50 μg/ml. One half of the cell culture samples were tested directly after 7 days, the others were allowed to recover during a 7-day treatment-free period. Subsequently viability testing and quantification for FJ staining were performed. All compounds except paraoxon increased FJ staining after 7 days, and this signal increased slightly during the recovery period with glutamate and acrylamide. With mipafox and IDPN the signal decreased slightly. Paraoxon increased FJ staining only after the recovery period. The intensity of FJ staining did not always correlate with neurofilament destruction or cytotoxicity. It can therefore be assumed that FJ targets a different cellular endpoint. Interestingly, paraoxon, a compound which does not induce neurodegeneration, increased FJ staining only in the recovery phase; this pointed to a neurotoxic mechanism which sets it apart from the other model compounds.