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The neuron microfluidic device allows researchers to compartmentalize neuronal cultures. The neuron device consists of two culture chambers separated by a microgroove barrier. Neurons are typically loaded on one side of the device. The size of the microgroove barrier allows axons to grow through the barrier while keeping the cell bodies (Soma) isolated from the distal chamber. Please note, however, that the microgrooves will not keep migrating cells from crossing the barrier. In addition, high density cultures may result in some cell bodies entering the microgrooves.
The neuron device also makes it possible to perform axotomy, i.e., cutting axons via vacuum aspiration in the distal chamber and observing their regrowth.
The neuron device is also small in size (total volume ~ 600 µl); thus, researchers save on the expensive reagents needed for neuronal culture.
Yes. However, as with protein, the low amount of cells in the device generally translates into low yields of RNA. Like for protein lysates, devices can be pooled in order to obtain enough RNA to detect low yield RNAs. Your success in isolating RNA will depend on the abundance of your target RNA.
Plasma bonding involves using a plasma cleaner to produce reactive oxygen species on the surface of both the neuron device and glass. In addition to cleaning the glass and neuron device, the plasma cleaner also sterilizes. After treating with plasma when the neuron device comes in contact with the glass it forms a tight irreversible bond. Plasma treating also makes the surfaces hydrophilic, thereby facilitating the introduction of liquids into the device. We typically recommend the Harrick plasma cleaner.
No, the neuron device can be bound to cover glass without using a plasma cleaner. It is, however, important to use clean, sterile glass. Typically we recommend using a water bath sonicator to clean the glass, followed by an ethanol bath to sterilize them. After removing from the ethanol bath, rinse the slides three times with sterile dH2O in the glass staining dish, preferably in a bio safety cabinet to help maintain sterility. Allow the slides to dry in a bio safety cabinet for several hours, preferably overnight.
Also, the neuron devices will need to be sterilized prior to use. This can be done by rinsing the devices with 70% Ethanol and allowing them to dry completely in a biosafety cabinet. The devices can also be sterilized by autoclaving. However, one needs to take care in choosing what type of container in which to autoclave the devices. Some plastic containers and bags can impart toxins into the device which will then kill the cells.