For decades, the role of glial cells has attracted attention in the neuroscience field. Particularly, although the astrocyte is the most abundant glial cell type, it was believed to function as a passive support cell. However, recent evidence suggests that astrocytes actively release various gliotransmitters and signaling entities that regulate the excitability of pre-and post-synaptic neurons in the brain. In this study, we optimized the ratio of astrocytes and neurons to investigate the interaction between astrocytes and neurons. To this end, postnatal day 0–1 rodent hippocampi were dissociated and cultured. The neuron–astrocyte ratio was monitored for up to 3 weeks after treating the cultures with 0, 1, and 5 µM of cytosine arabinoside (Ara-C) at DIV 2. Subsequently, from postnatal transgenic (TG) mouse expressing ChR2 on astrocytes, hippocampi were cultured on the microelectrode array (MEA) with the desired neuron–astrocyte ratio. The astrocyte was irradiated using a 473 nm blue laser for 30 s in a cycle of 10 Hz and electrophysiological recording was performed to verify the activities of neurons induced by the stimulated astrocytes. Astrocytes and neurons in both co-cultures increased at an identical ratio when treated with 1 µM Ara-C, whereas they decreased significantly when treated with 5 µM Ara-C. Particularly, the laser-stimulated astrocytes induced an increase in the frequency of neuronal activities and lasted after illumination. The proposed co-culture platform is expected to be used in experiments to investigate the network between astrocytes and neurons in vitro.
- Microelectrode array
- Optogenetic modulation