Journal of the European Optical Society - Rapid publications, Vol 6 (2011)

Neuronal chemotaxis by optically manipulated liposomes

G. Pinato, L. T. Lien, E. D'Este, V. Torre, D. Cojoc


We probe chemotaxis of single neurons, induced by signalling molecules which were optically delivered from liposomes in the neighbourhood of the cells. We implemented an optical tweezers setup combined with a micro-dissection system on an inverted microscope platform. Molecules of Netrin-1 protein were encapsulated into micron-sized liposomes and manipulated to micrometric distances from a specific growth cone of a hippocampal neuron by the IR optical tweezers. The molecules were then released broken the liposomes with UV laser pulses. Chemotaxis induced by the delivered molecules was confirmed by the migration of the growth cone toward the liposome position. Since the delivery can be manipulated with high temporal and spatial resolution and the number of molecules released can be controlled quite precisely by tuning the liposome size and the solution concentration, this technique opens new opportunities to investigate the effect of physiological active compounds as Netrin-1 to neuronal signalling and guidance, which represents an important issue in neurobiology.

© The Authors. All rights reserved. [DOI: 10.2971/jeos.2011.11042]

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