Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.)

Isolation and culture of human astrocytes.

PMID 22144306


Although rodent models have been essential to unveil the emerging functions of astrocytes, the existence of interspecies differences calls for caution in extrapolating data from rodent to human astrocytes. We have developed highly enriched primary astrocyte cultures from human fetuses and adult cerebro-cortical biopsies from neurosurgery patients. Immunocytochemical characterization shows that cultures are composed of more than 95% of cells expressing in vitro astrocytic markers. Examination of the morphological and proliferative properties of cultures derived from the cerebral cortex and the hypothalamus both in untreated conditions and after treatment with EGF-related ligands illustrates the high plasticity of human astrocytes and their functional heterogeneity according to the cerebral region of origin. Our preparation offers the opportunity to characterize human astrocyte functions in vitro and also provides a valuable tool for studying the functional heterogeneity of human astrocytes isolated from distinct brain regions.