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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Rat cortical neuron cultures: an in vitro model for differentiating mechanisms of chemically induced neurotoxicity.

Various structurally unrelated chemicals [2,5 hexandione, acrylamide, organophosphates like mipafox, beta,beta iminodipropionnitrile (IDPN), 3-nitropropionic acid (3-NP), potassium cyanide (KCN), paraquat, and NMDA (N-methyl-D-apartic acid)] are known to cause degenerative damage of the peripheral or central nervous system. Differentiated neuronal cell cultures obtained from fetal rats have been used to differentiate the mechanisms underlying this type of neurotoxicity. Cytotoxicity as measured by a viability assay was not sensitive enough and had to be supplemented by further endpoints covering effects on cytoskeleton and on the energy state of the cells [glucose consumption, mitochondrial membrane potential and adenosine 5'-triphosphate (ATP) concentration]. Compounds like the delayed neurotoxic organophosphates, exert a selective direct effect on cytoskeleton elements in this model at concentrations distinctly below cytotoxic concentrations. Other compounds, like KCN, paraquat, and 3-NP selectively disrupt the balance between energy supply and demand of the neurons either by interacting with mitochondrial respiration or glycolysis. For these compounds cytoskeletal damage seemed to be secondary to the energy depletion. For NMDA, 2,5 hexandione and acrylamide, both mechanisms may contribute to the neuronal damage. In conclusion, primary cortical neuronal cultures of the rat are well suited to detect a neurotoxic potential and to differentiate its underlying mechanisms. Damage of the cytoskeleton may be considered as an endpoint mechanistically related to degenerative neuropathic effects.[1]


  1. Rat cortical neuron cultures: an in vitro model for differentiating mechanisms of chemically induced neurotoxicity. Schmuck, G., Ahr, H.J., Schlüter, G. In vitro & molecular toxicology. (2000) [Pubmed]
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