Application of micro-electrode arrays (MEAs) as an emerging technology for developmental neurotoxicity: Evaluation of domoic acid-induced effects in primary cultures of rat cortical neurons

Helena T. Hogberg, Tomasz Sobanski, Antonio Novellino, Maurice Whelan, Dieter G. Weiss, Anna K. Bal-Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Due to lack of knowledge only a few industrial chemicals have been identified as developmental neurotoxicants. Current developmental neurotoxicity (DNT) guidelines (OECD and EPA) are based entirely on in vivo studies that are both time consuming and costly. Consequently, there is a high demand to develop alternative in vitro methods for initial screening to prioritize chemicals for further DNT testing. One of the most promising tools for neurotoxicity assessment is the measurement of neuronal electrical activity using micro-electrode arrays (MEAs) that provides a functional and neuronal specific endpoint that until now has been used mainly to detect acute neurotoxicity. Here, electrical activity measurements were evaluated to be a suitable endpoint for the detection of potential developmental neurotoxicants. Initially, primary cortical neurons grown on MEA chips were characterized for different cell markers over time, using immunocytochemistry. Our results show that primary cortical neurons could be a promising in vitro model for DNT testing since some of the most critical neurodevelopment processes such as progenitor cell commitment, proliferation and differentiation of astrocytes and maturation of neurons are present. To evaluate if electrical activity could be a suitable endpoint to detect chemicals with DNT effects, our model was exposed to domoic acid (DomA), a potential developmental neurotoxicant for up to 4 weeks. Long-term exposure to a low concentration (50nM) of DomA increased the basal spontaneous electrical activity as measured by spike and burst rates. Moreover, the effect induced by the GABA A receptor antagonist bicuculline was significantly lower in the DomA treated cultures than in the untreated ones. The MEA measurements indicate that chronic exposure to DomA changed the spontaneous electrical activity leading to the possible neuronal mal functioning. The obtained results suggest that the MEAs could be a useful tool to identify compounds with DNT potential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-168
Number of pages11
JournalNeuroToxicology
Volume32
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

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Keywords

  • Developmental neurotoxicity
  • Domoic acid
  • Multielectrode recording
  • Primary culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Toxicology

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