Skip Navigation
Oklahoma State University
Research Week

Home of World Class Research

Neurite outgrowth as a morphological measure of neuronal development and function: Importance of nutrition and genetics

Neurite outgrowth as a morphological measure of neuronal development and function: Importance of nutrition and genetics

Name:
Mariah Nacke

Department:
Nutritional Sciences

Abstract:
Biomedical research emphasizes the advancement of knowledge on cellular factors that contribute to disease states. Tremendous insight can be gained through the study of multiple dimensions of cellular health and function, including the analysis of cell structure. Characterizing structural differences can advance knowledge of cell-states linked to genetic models and common mutations underlying specific diseases. Image analysis software programs are powerful tools in revealing morphological differences in cellular structure. Here, we explain the steps of data acquisition and analysis for evaluating neurite length, a morphological indicator for neuronal development, in Neuro-2a cells using brightfield microscopy with digital image capture and NIH ImageJ software with NeuronJ add-on. We demonstrate that Cas9/CRISPR-mediated genetic deletion of ZIP12 leads to decreased neurite outgrowth. We also demonstrate that mitochondrial inhibition with rotenone, a toxin linked to Parkinson's disease, leads to reduced neurite outgrowth in ZIP12-shRNA depleted cells. In future studies, we plan to evaluate neurite outgrowth using heterologous expression of Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and Huntington's disease genes. Collectively, studies can focus on characterizing dimensions of cellular structure as a traceable link to adverse disease states, and identify nutritional or other health strategies for promoting brain development and preserving brain function during aging.