2009 Volume 129 Issue 1 Pages 8-16
Regeneration of the central nervous system (CNS) is one of the most important research themes in neuroscience and neuroengineering. It is essential to replenish the lost neurons and to establish appropriate functional neuronal networks using pluripotent stem cells. Little is known, however, about the properties of stem cell-derived neuronal networks, particularly under the differentiation and development processes. In this work, we cultured P19 embryonal carcinoma cells on micro-electrode arrays (MEAs). P19 cells were differentiated into neurons by retinoic acid application and formed densely connected networks. Spontaneous electrical activity was extracellulary recorded through substrate electrodes and analyzed. Synchronized periodic bursts, which were the characteristic features in primary cultured CNS neurons, were observed. Pharmacological studies demonstrated that the glutamatergic excitatory synapses and the GABAergic inhibitory synapses were active in these P19-derived neuronal networks. The results suggested that MEA-based recording was useful for monitoring differentiation processes of stem cells. P19-derived neuronal networks had quite similar network properties to those of primary cultured neurons, and thus provide a novel model system to investigate stem cell-based neuronal regeneration.