Primary Cultures of Spinal Cord Motor Neurons as a Model for Neurodegeneration and ALS

 

Robert Bowser, Ph.D.
Department of Pathology
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

The molecular mechanisms that regulate cell death during neurodegenerative diseases remain unclear. While the use of animal models of neurodegenerative diseases and brain tissue samples from control and affected individuals play an important role in identifying and characterizing pathogenic mechanisms, the use of tissue culture model systems plays an equally important role in such research goals. Neuronal cell culture model systems have played critical roles in identifying and examining cell death mechanisms relevant to neurodegenerative diseases and provides an excellent opportunity to control and manipulate the experimental conditions that result in cell death. Dr. Bowser and his laboratory group plan to establish a spinal cord motor neuron cell culture system that will be used to investigate molecular mechanisms that regulate motor neuron cell death. These studies are relevant not only to motor neuron diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis but also to other neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.