Monday, February 05, 2024

Functional human brain tissue produced by layering different neuronal types with 3D bioprinting

A very important advance by Su-Chun Zhang and collaborators at the University of Wisconsin that moves studies of nerve cells connecting in nutrient dishes from two to three dimensions:  


  • Functional human neural tissues assembled by 3D bioprinting
  • Neural circuits formed between defined neural subtypes
  • Functional connections established between cortical-striatal tissues
  • Printed tissues for modeling neural network impairment


Probing how human neural networks operate is hindered by the lack of reliable human neural tissues amenable to the dynamic functional assessment of neural circuits. We developed a 3D bioprinting platform to assemble tissues with defined human neural cell types in a desired dimension using a commercial bioprinter. The printed neuronal progenitors differentiate into neurons and form functional neural circuits within and between tissue layers with specificity within weeks, evidenced by the cortical-to-striatal projection, spontaneous synaptic currents, and synaptic response to neuronal excitation. Printed astrocyte progenitors develop into mature astrocytes with elaborated processes and form functional neuron-astrocyte networks, indicated by calcium flux and glutamate uptake in response to neuronal excitation under physiological and pathological conditions. These designed human neural tissues will likely be useful for understanding the wiring of human neural networks, modeling pathological processes, and serving as platforms for drug testing.


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