Development of a bench-top device for parallel climate-controlled recordings of neuronal cultures activity with microelectrode arrays

Giulia Regalia, Emilia Biffi, Silvia Achilli, Giancarlo Ferrigno, Andrea Menegon, Alessandra Pedrocchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two binding requirements for in vitro studies on long-term neuronal networks dynamics are (i) finely controlled environmental conditions to keep neuronal cultures viable and provide reliable data for more than a few hours and (ii) parallel operation on multiple neuronal cultures to shorten experimental time scales and enhance data reproducibility. In order to fulfill these needs with a Microelectrode Arrays (MEA)-based system, we designed a stand-alone device that permits to uninterruptedly monitor neuronal cultures activity over long periods, overcoming drawbacks of existing MEA platforms. We integrated in a single device: (i) a closed chamber housing four MEAs equipped with access for chemical manipulations, (ii) environmental control systems and embedded sensors to reproduce and remotely monitor the standard in vitro culture environment on the lab bench (i.e. in terms of temperature, air CO2 and relative humidity), and (iii) a modular MEA interface analog front-end for reliable and parallel recordings. The system has been proven to assure environmental conditions stable, physiological and homogeneos across different cultures. Prolonged recordings (up to 10 days) of spontaneous and pharmacologically stimulated neuronal culture activity have not shown signs of rundown thanks to the environmental stability and have not required to withdraw the cells from the chamber for culture medium manipulations. This system represents an effective MEA-based solution to elucidate neuronal network phenomena with slow dynamics, such as long-term plasticity, effects of chronic pharmacological stimulations or late-onset pathological mechanisms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403 - 413
Number of pages11
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2016


  • Environment control system
  • Microelectrode arrays
  • Neuronal cell culture
  • Pharmacological screenings
  • Prolonged recordings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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