A Novel In Vitro Live-imaging Assay of Astrocyte-mediated Phagocytosis Using pH Indicator-conjugated Synaptosomes

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Astrocytes are the major cell type in the brain and directly contact synapses and blood vessels. Although microglial cells have been considered the major immune cells and only phagocytes in the brain, recent studies have shown that astrocytes also participate in various phagocytic processes, such as developmental synapse elimination and clearance of amyloid beta plaques in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Despite these findings, the efficiency of astrocyte engulfment and degradation of their targets is unclear compared with that of microglia. This lack of information is mostly due to the lack of an assay system in which the kinetics of astrocyte- and microglia-mediated phagocytosis are easily comparable. To achieve this goal, we have developed a long-term live-imaging in vitro phagocytosis assay to evaluate the phagocytic capacity of purified astrocytes and microglia. In this assay, real-time detection of engulfment and degradation is possible using pH indicator-conjugated synaptosomes, which emit bright red fluorescence in acidic organelles, such as lysosomes. Our novel assay provides simple and effective detection of phagocytosis through live-imaging. In addition, this in vitro phagocytosis assay can be used as a screening platform to identify chemicals and compounds that can enhance or inhibit the phagocytic capacity of astrocytes. As synaptic pruning malfunction and pathogenic protein accumulation have been shown to cause mental disorders or neurodegenerative diseases, chemicals and compounds that modulate the phagocytic capacity of glial cells should be helpful in treating various neurological disorders.
Publisher
JOURNAL OF VISUALIZED EXPERIMENTS
Issue Date
2018-02
Language
English
Article Type
Article
Keywords

BRAIN; CLEARANCE; SYNAPSES; NEURONS

Citation

JOVE-JOURNAL OF VISUALIZED EXPERIMENTS, v.5, no.132

ISSN
1940-087X
DOI
10.3791/56647
URI
http://hdl.handle.net/10203/241462
Appears in Collection
BS-Journal Papers(저널논문)
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