Addressing Functional Neurotoxicity Using the Microelectrode Array (MEA)

Part of the Methods in Pharmacology and Toxicology book series (MIPT)


Early drug development requires tests for compound-induced neurotoxic effects, i.e., to investigate possible alterations of neuronal activity as a result of the test compound. In vivo and in vitro animal models transpire not to be overly predictive of neurotoxic effects in humans and furthermore are in contradiction to the efforts of the European Community to reduce the number of animal experiments. Consequently, alternatives to these animal model-based assays are currently being investigated. Human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived neurons offer several advantages, including being of human origin and offering the possibility of developing disease models from patient-derived cells. The development of electrophysiological assays based on microelectrode array systems (MEA) allows one to study alterations of neuronal activity in samples of varying complexity ranging from single cells to neuronal networks. As a non-invasive method it supports not only acute but also long-term experiments for extended time periods. Here we describe how to record neuronal activity from neurons and provide exemplarily insights into a validation study for a commercially available hiPSC-derived neuronal cell type.

Key words

Microelectrode array MEA Multi-well Assay development Spike analysis Neuronal activity Threshold detection 



Parts of the research leading to these results has received support from the Innovative Medicines Initiative Joint Undertaking under grant agreement n° 115439, resources of which are composed of financial contribution from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) and EFPIA companies’ in kind contribution. This publication reflects only the author’s views and neither the IMI JU nor EFPIA nor the European Commission are liable for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ElectrophysiologyNMI Natural and Medical Sciences Institute at the University of TuebingenReutlingenGermany
  2. 2.Axiogenesis AGCologneGermany

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