Application protocol

Isolation and cultivation of neurons from adult mouse brain

 In this application protocol, we present a protocol to generate highly purified and viable neurons from adult mouse brain tissue. Brain tissue from mice older than P7 is dissociated into a single-cell suspension using the Adult Brain Dissociation Kit. The extracellular matrix is enzymatically digested using the kit components, while the gentleMACS™ Dissociator with Heaters is used for the mechanical dissociation steps during the on-instrument enzyme incubation. After the dissociation, myelin and cell debris are removed using the Debris Removal Solution and is followed by an subsequent removal of erythrocytes using the Red Blood Cell Removal Solution. The Neuron Isolation Kit, mouse is used to isolate neurons from the single-cell suspension.

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This protocol includes detailed instructions for preparing necessary reagents and materials and then carrying out each step.


The following is a listing of reagents, instruments, and consumables needed for each step of this protocol. These products are for research use only.

General reagent and instrument requirements

  • Dulbecco’s phopshate-buffered saline (D-PBS) with calcium, magnesium, glucose, and pyruvate. Keep buffer cold (2−8 °C).
  • D-PBS/BSA buffer: Prepare a solution containing D-PBS and 0.5% bovine serum albumin (BSA) by diluting MACS® BSA Stock Solution (# 130‑091‑376) 1:20 with D-PBS. Keep buffer cold (2−8 °C). Degas buffer before use, as air bubbles could block the column.
    Note: Always use freshly prepared buffer. Do not use autoMACS® Running Buffer or MACSQuant® Running Buffer as they contain a small amount of sodium azide that could affect the results.
    Note: BSA can be replaced by other proteins such as mouse serum albumin, mouse serum, or fetal bovine serum (FBS).

For brain tissue dissociation

  • Adult Brain Dissociation Kit, mouse and rat (# 130-107-677)
  • gentleMACS™ Octo Dissociator with Heaters (# 130-096-427)
  • gentleMACS C Tubes (# 130-093-237, # 130-096-334)
  • 35 mm diameter sterile petri dish
  • Sterile scalpel
  • Sterile forceps
  • (Optional) ART® 1000 REACH™ pipet tips (Molecular BioProducts, Inc.) for removal of dissociated material from the closed C Tubes.
  • MACS SmartStrainers (70 μm) (# 130-098-462)
  • 15 mL and 50 mL tubes
  • Centrifuge with swinging bucket rotor

For cell isolation and flow cytometry analysis

  • Adult Neuron Isolation Kit, mouse (# 130-126-603)
  • (Optional) Pre-Separation Filters (70 μm) (# 130-095-823)
  • MACS Columns and MACS Separators: neurons can be enriched by depletion using LS Columns. Depletion can also be performed by using the autoMACS Pro Separator.
ColumnMax. number of labeled cellsMax. number of total cellsSelector
LS2×10⁷4×10⁷MidiMACS™, QuadroMACS™,
autoMACS5×10⁷1×108autoMACS Pro
Note: Column adapters are required to insert certain columns into the VarioMACS or SuperMACS II Separators. For details refer to the respective MACS Separator data sheet.
  • Fluorochrome-conjugated antibodies for flow cytometry analysis, e.g., an astrocyte-specific antibody as Anti-ACSA-2-PE, an oligodendrocyte-specific antibody as Anti-O4-PE, or an microglia-specific antibody as CD11b-FITC. Learn more about our antibodies and dyes.
  • (Optional) Propidium Iodide Solution (# 130-093-233) or 7-AAD for flow cytometry exclusion of dead cells
  • (Optional) MACSQuant Analyzer 10 (# 130-096-343)

For cell culture

  • Double-distilled water (ddH₂O)
  • Imaging Plate CG 1.5 (24 well) (# 130-098-263)
  • MACS Neuro Medium (# 130-093-570) and MACS NeuroBrew®-21 (# 130-093-566)
  • L-glutamine
  • Poly-L-lysine (0.01%)
  • Penicillin/streptomycin
  • Human BDNF
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