Nano Research

, Volume 9, Issue 8, pp 2384–2397 | Cite as

Using a 3-D multicellular simulation of spinal cord injury with live cell imaging to study the neural immune barrier to nanoparticle uptake

  • Alan P. Weightman
  • Stuart I. Jenkins
  • Divya M. ChariEmail author
Research Article


Development of nanoparticle (NP) based therapies to promote regeneration in sites of central nervous system (CNS; i.e. brain and spinal cord) pathology relies critically on the availability of experimental models that offer biologically valid predictions of NP fate in vivo. However, there is a major lack of biological models that mimic the pathological complexity of target neural sites in vivo, particularly the responses of resident neural immune cells to NPs. Here, we have utilised a previously developed in vitro model of traumatic spinal cord injury (based on 3-D organotypic slice arrays) with dynamic time lapse imaging to reveal in real-time the acute cellular fate of NPs within injury foci. We demonstrate the utility of our model in revealing the well documented phenomenon of avid NP sequestration by the intrinsic immune cells of the CNS (the microglia). Such immune sequestration is a known translational barrier to the use of NP-based therapeutics for neurological injury. Accordingly, we suggest that the utility of our model in mimicking microglial sequestration behaviours offers a valuable investigative tool to evaluate strategies to overcome this cellular response within a simple and biologically relevant experimental system, whilst reducing the use of live animal neurological injury models for such studies.


organotypic slice culture microglia immune barrier corticosteroid dexamethasone time lapse microscopy 


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Copyright information

© Tsinghua University Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan P. Weightman
    • 1
  • Stuart I. Jenkins
    • 1
  • Divya M. Chari
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Cellular and Neural Engineering Group, Institute for Science and Technology in Medicine, Huxley BuildingKeele UniversityKeeleUK

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