A paradigm for examining toxicant effects on viability, structure, and axonal transport of neurons in culture

Daniel J. Brat*, Stephen Brimijoin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

NIE.115 murine neuroblastoma cells differentiating in serum-free medium were used to develop a paradigm for testing neurotoxicity in vitro. The paradigm was designed to test the effects of toxicants on four different aspects of cell function or structure: 1. Viability as shown by the retention of cellular radiolabel (51Cr); 2. Growth and maintenance of neurites as reflected by the incidence and average length of these processes; 3. Gross structure of neurites; and 4. Velocity and flux of rapid anterograde and retrograde axonal transport as judged by video-enhanced differential interference contrast microscopy. To evaluate this paradigm, colchicine and vinblastine were used as neurotoxicants with a well-understood mechanism of action. These agents were only weakly cytotoxic according to the Cr-release assay, but were able to interfere with neurite outgrowth at nanomolar concentrations. Neurites that were elaborated in the presence of vinblastine and colchicine were often disfigured by numerous swellings packed with organelles. In established neurites, micromolar concentrations of vinblastine inhibited organellar motility with great rapidity, blocking all signs of transport within 20 min. The effect of colchicine was slower and less complete, but still impressive. We suggest that this four-part analysis represents a highly sensitive in vitro test for neurotoxicity, and a means of analyzing the relation between abnormalities of transport and structural damage of nerve cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-135
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Neurobiology
Volume6
Issue number2-3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1992

Keywords

  • axonal transport
  • colchicine
  • neurite outgrowth
  • Neurotoxicity
  • video microscopy
  • vinblastine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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