Volume 35, Issue. 2, April, 2019

Human Brain Slice Culture: A Useful Tool to Study Brain Disorders and Potential Therapeutic Compounds

Xin-Rui Qi1,2,* • Ronald W. H. Verwer2 • Ai-Min Bao3 • Rawien A. Balesar2 • Sabina Luchetti2 • Jiang-Ning Zhou4 • Dick F. Swaab2

1Center for Translational Neurodegeneration and Regenerative Therapy, Shanghai Tenth People’s Hospital Affiliated to Tongji University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200072, China
2Department of Neuropsychiatric Disorders, Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, An Institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Amsterdam 1105BA, The Netherlands
3Department of Neurobiology, Institute of Neuroscience, NHC and CAMS Key Laboratory of Medical Neurobiology, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou 310058, China
4Key Laboratory of Brain Function and Diseases, School of Life Sciences, University of Science and Technology of China, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Hefei 230026, China


Investigating the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying brain disorders is a priority if novel therapeutic strategies are to be developed. In vivo studies of animal models and in vitro studies of cell lines/primary cell cultures may provide useful tools to study certain aspects of brain disorders. However, discrepancies among these studies or unsuccessful translation from animal/cell studies to human/clinical studies often occur, because these models generally represent only some symptoms of a neuropsychiatric disorder rather than the complete disorder. Human brain slice cultures from postmortem tissue or resected tissue from operations have shown that, in vitro, neurons and glia can stay alive for long periods of time, while their morphological and physiological characteristics, and their ability to respond to experimental manipulations are maintained. Human brain slices can thus provide a close representation of neuronal networks in vivo, be a valuable tool for investigation of the basis of neuropsychiatric disorders, and provide a platform for the evaluation of novel pharmacological treatments of human brain diseases. A brain bank needs to provide the necessary infrastructure to bring together donors, hospitals, and researchers who want to investigate human brain slices in cultures of clinically and neuropathologically well-documented material.


Alzheimer’s disease; Brain bank; Brain-derived neurotrophic factor; Depression; Electrical activity; Human brain slice culture; Neuropsychiatric disorders; Organotypic culture; Postmortem human brain tissue; Resected human brain tissue


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