Slice Culture Modeling of CNS Viral Infection

Kalen R. Dionne, Kenneth L. Tyler, Penny Clarke

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The complexity of the central nervous system (CNS) is not recapitulated in cell culture models. Thin slicing and subsequent culture of CNS tissue has become a valued means to study neuronal and glial biology within the context of the physiologically relevant tissue milieu. Modern membrane-interface slice culturing methodology allows for straightforward access to both CNS tissue and feeding medium, enabling experimental manipulations and analyses that would otherwise be impossible in vivo. CNS slices can be successfully maintained in culture for up to several weeks for investigation of evolving pathology and long-term intervention in models of chronic neurologic disease. Herein, membrane-interface slice culture models for studying viral encephalitis and myelitis are detailed, with emphasis on the use of these models for investigation of pathogenesis and evaluation of novel treatment strategies. We describe techniques to (1) generate brain and spinal cord slices from rodent donors, (2) virally infect slices, (3) monitor viral replication, (4) assess virally induced injury/apoptosis, (5) characterize “CNS-specific” cytokine production, and, (6) treat slices with cytokines/pharmaceuticals. Although our focus is on CNS viral infection, we anticipate that the described methods can be adapted to address a wide range of investigations within the fields of neuropathology, neuroimmunology, and neuropharmacology.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMethods in Molecular Biology
PublisherHumana Press Inc.
Number of pages22
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745
ISSN (Electronic)1940-6029


  • Apoptosis
  • Brain slice
  • Caspase
  • Cytokine
  • Encephalitis
  • Ex vivo
  • Myelitis
  • Organotypic
  • Spinal cord slice
  • Virus


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