Stem cell technologies using iPSCs allow researchers to create differentiated neurons and support cells to study human brain and nervous system functions, circumventing several challenges in neurobiology research. These technologies, however, require considerable effort to build and validate cellular bioassays that represent native human physiology or pathophysiology. Live-cell analysis techniques are well-suited to the requirements of neuroscientists working with either basic or advanced cell models; live-cell analysis allows generation of data throughout the experimental workflow and time-lapse imaging right within the cell incubator for complete environmental control.
In this article, we discuss several neurobiology-specific applications using live-cell analysis to assess such processes as basic iPSC-derived neuronal cell health, neurite dynamics, neuronal activity, and microglial phagocytosis and chemotaxis. These assays are noninvasive, nonperturbing, and cell sparing, thus providing a valuable complement to other end-point techniques.