Quantifying Spontaneous Ca2+ Fluxes and their Downstream Effects in Primary Mouse Midbrain Neurons. Academic Article uri icon


  • Parkinson's disease (PD) is a devastating neurodegenerative disorder caused by the degeneration of dopaminergic (DA) neurons. Excessive Ca2+ influx due to the abnormal activation of glutamate receptors results in DA excitotoxicity and has been identified as an important mechanism for DA neuron loss. In this study, we isolate, dissociate, and culture midbrain neurons from the mouse ventral mesencephalon (VM) of ED14 mouse embryos. We then infect the long-term primary mouse midbrain cultures with an adeno-associated virus (AAV) expressing a genetically encoded calcium indicator, GCaMP6f under control of the human neuron-specific synapsin promoter, hSyn. Using live confocal imaging, we show that cultured mouse midbrain neurons display spontaneous Ca2+ fluxes detected by AAV-hSyn-GCaMP6f. Bath application of glutamate to midbrain cultures causes abnormal elevations in intracellular Ca2+ within neurons and this is accompanied by caspase-3 activation in DA neurons, as demonstrated by immunostaining. The techniques to identify glutamate-mediated apoptosis in primary mouse DA neurons have important applications for the high content screening of drugs that preserve DA neuron health.

published proceedings

  • J Vis Exp

altmetric score

  • 2.1

author list (cited authors)

  • Bancroft, E. A., & Srinivasan, R.

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • Bancroft, Eric A||Srinivasan, Rahul

publication date

  • September 2020