A modular brain-on-a-chip for modelling epileptic seizures with functionally connected human neuronal networks

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    Epilepsies are a group of neurological disorders characterised by recurrent epileptic seizures. Seizures, defined as abnormal transient discharges of neuronal activity, can affect the entire brain circuitry or remain more focal in the specific brain regions and neuronal networks. Human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC)-derived neurons are a promising option for modelling epilepsies, but as such, they do not model groups of connected neuronal networks or focal seizures. Our solution is a Modular Platform for Epilepsy Modelling In Vitro (MEMO), a lab-on-chip device, in which three hPSC-derived networks are separated by a novel microfluidic cell culture device that allows controlled network-to-network axonal connections through microtunnels. In this study, we show that the neuronal networks formed a functional circuitry that was successfully cultured in MEMO for up to 98 days. The spontaneous neuronal network activities were monitored with an integrated custom-made microelectrode array (MEA). The networks developed spontaneous burst activity that was synchronous both within and between the axonally connected networks, i.e. mimicking both local and circuitry functionality of the brain. A convulsant, kainic acid, increased bursts only in the specifically treated networks. The activity reduction by an anticonvulsant, phenytoin, was also localised to treated networks. Therefore, modelling focal seizures in human neuronal networks is now possible with the developed chip.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number112553
    Number of pages10
    JournalBiosensors and Bioelectronics
    Publication statusPublished - 2020
    Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • : Epilepsy
    • Functional circuitry
    • Human stem cell derived neurons
    • In vitro disease modelling
    • Microelectrode arrays
    • Microfluidic device

    Publication forum classification

    • Publication forum level 2

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Biotechnology
    • Biophysics
    • Biomedical Engineering
    • Electrochemistry


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