Primary cell culture of meningothelial cells—a new model to study the arachnoid in glaucomatous optic neuropathy

  • Xiaorong Xin
  • Bin Fan
  • Hanspeter E. Killer
  • Albert Neutzner
  • Josef Flammer
  • Peter MeyerEmail author
Basic Science



In a previous report, we found that the occurrence and amount of meningothelial cell nests in the subarachnoid space are significantly increased in glaucomatous optic nerves compared to normals. In order to allow research into the role of meningothelial cells during diseases of the optic nerve, an in vitro model is necessary. For this purpose, we developed a culture method for porcine meningothelial cells from the arachnoid layer covering the optic nerve.


Meningothelial cells were scraped from the arachnoid layer of porcine optic nerves and cultured for 2–3 weeks until the cells formed a monolayer. To eliminate contaminating fibroblasts from the culture, cells were negatively selected using magnetic anti-fibroblast beads after the first passage. Cells were detached using 0.05% Trypsin-EDTA, incubated with anti-fibroblast beads, separated using a magnetic column and the flow-through was collected. The purified primary meningothelial cells were characterized by electron microscopy and immunocytochemistry using anti-glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and anti-keratan sulfate antibodies.


Primary cells grew out after dissection and formed a monolayer within 2–3 weeks, which was composed of two morphologically different cell types, flattened cells with round nuclei and fibroblast-like cells with long processes. The fibroblast-like cells in the culture could be labelled and selected using anti-fibroblast microbeads. The second cell type did not bind to the anti-fibroblast beads, and upon immunocytochemistry showed a marked expression of both GFAP and keratan sulphate. In addition, examination of these cells by electron microscopy revealed morphological characteristics of meningothelial cells, including hemidesmosomes and cytoplasmatic filaments.


The technique described in this paper for the primary culture of meningothelial cells from the subarachnoid space of the optic nerve and using magnetic beads for the removal of fibroblasts is effective in obtaining a highly enriched meningothelial cell culture.


Meningothelial cell Fibroblast Subarachnoid space Cell culture Optic nerve Glaucoma Arachnoid 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaorong Xin
    • 1
    • 3
  • Bin Fan
    • 1
    • 4
  • Hanspeter E. Killer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Albert Neutzner
    • 1
  • Josef Flammer
    • 1
  • Peter Meyer
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of BiomedicineUniversity Eye Clinic, University Hospital BaselBaselSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of OphthalmologyKantonsspital AarauAarauSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of OphthalmologyQinghai Provincial People’s HospitalXiningChina
  4. 4.Department of Ophthalmology2nd Clinical Hospital Jilin UniversityChangchunChina
  5. 5.Department of Ophthalmic PathologyUniversity Eye Clinic BaselBaselSwitzerland

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