1 Introduction

The central nervous system (CNS) consists of seven structures defined by their tissue organization and function: the cerebral hemispheres, diencephalon, midbrain, cerebellum, pons, medulla oblongata, and spinal cord.

Structures of the central nervous system and their functions

CNS structureOrganization/substructuresFunctions
Cerebral hemispheresCorpus callosumConnects left and right cerebral hemispheres

Outer layer:

Cerebral cortex
The largest region of the mammalian brain is divided into the frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital lobes. Responsible for various functions, such as cognition, memory, awareness, consciousness, language, movement.

Inner substructures:

Perception and communication of emotions
HippocampusMemory formation
Basal gangliaRegulation of movement
DiencephalonThalamusProcess most information input to cerebral cortex
HypothalamusRegulation of autonomic, endocrine and visceral functions
MidbrainSensory and motor function control
Substantia nigraClosely associated with motor system pathways of basal ganglia
CerebellumConnected to the brain stem. Modulates movement and is involved in learning motor skills
PonsConveys information about movement from cerebral hemispheres to cerebellum
Medulla oblongataRegulates vital autonomic functions like breathing, blood pressure, heart rate
Spinal cordSignal transmission from motor cortex to body, and from sensory neurons to sensory cortex; reflex center
MACS Handbook:

Neural cells (mouse)

2 Cell types, frequencies, and markers

The nervous system includes two main classes of cells: neurons and glial cells. Neurons receive, process, and transmit information. Glial cells perform multiple functions to support and protect neurons, including maintaining homeostasis, forming myelin, supplying nutrients, destroying pathogens, and removing dead neurons. In vertebrates, glial cells outnumber neurons 10–50 times, and are divided into microglia and macroglia. The two major classes of macroglia in the CNS are astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. For more information about cell types in the CNS see the MACS Handbook chapter neural cells.
MACS Handbook:

Neural cells (mouse)

3 Sample preparation

At a glance: Kits, reagents, and hardware for the preparation of neural tissue samples

Kits and reagents
Dissociation of neural tissue into a single-cell suspension, free of debris and red blood cells (RBC)Animal age >P7; uses an optimized enzyme mix for enzymatic dissociation and contains debris and RBC removal solutionsAdult Brain Dissociation Kit, mouse and rat
Dissociation of neural tissue into a single-cell suspensionAnimal age ≤P7; uses papain for enzymatic dissociationNeural Tissue Dissociation Kit (P)
Dissociation of neural tissue into a single-cell suspensionAnimal age ≤P7; uses trypsin for enzymatic dissociationNeural Tissue Dissociation Kit (T)
Dissociation of neural tissue into a single-cell suspension optimized for subsequent neuron isolationAnimal age ≤P7Neural Tissue Dissociation Kit – Postnatal Neurons
Dissociation of brain tumor tissueUses papain for enzymatic dissociationBrain Tumor Dissociation Kit (P)
Dissociation of cultured neurospheresUses papain for enzymatic dissociationNeurosphere Dissociation Kit (P)
Dissociation of embryoid bodies generated in vitroEmbryoid Body Dissociation Kit, human and mouse
Removal of myelinTo be used on single-cell suspensionsMyelin Removal Beads II, human, mouse, rat
Hardware and consumables
Tissue dissociationProvides pre-set programs to dissociate different tissues with Miltenyi Biotec's enzyme kits for high cell yield and viability.gentleMACS™ Octo Dissociator with Heaters
Tissue dissociationPrecision tool coupled with gentleMACS Dissociators that generates optimal shearing to efficiently disrupt tissue while keeping cells intact. gentleMACS C Tube
Smart design prevents clogging, enables one-step filtering with decreasing filter sizes, and accommodates 50 mL or 15 mL tubes.MACS® SmartStrainer, 70 µm

Tissue dissociation into single-cell suspensions with high cell viability and a minimum of cell debris is a prerequisite for reliable cell separation, cell culture, flow cytometry analysis, and molecular analysis. A dissociation procedure that combines optimized enzymatic treatment with gentle mechanical dissociation is crucial for the preparation of viable single-cell suspensions. In case of adult neural tissue, sample preparation must also include removal of debris and erythrocytes to enable effective cell isolation and culture.

Miltenyi Biotec offers standardized, automated dissociation procedures that facilitate fast and reproducible dissociation of neural tissue at all development stages. All procedures are designed to deliver high numbers of viable cells for optimal downstream processing.

A special protocol for dissociating inflamed neural tissue can be downloaded from the Related Resources Panel to the right.

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