Astrocyte Highways: The Secret Garden of the Central Nervous System

Astrocyte Highways: The Secret Garden of the Central Nervous System

Anna Jagielska, Mingyu Yang, Krystyn J. Van Vliet

MIT Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Van Vliet Lab researchers engineered this  biomimetic platform to study cellular interactions in the central nervous system. 3D-printed Artificial Axons (red pillars), which mimic biological axons, were seeded with induced human brain stem cells (cyan nuclei). Although the initial goal of the project was to understand axon myelination by oligodendrocytes, the emergence of astrocytes (magenta) added another layer of biological complexity—and beauty—to the engineered environment. Scientists can now use this platform to test how both cell types behave in the presence of neurological disease markers or therapeutic interventions.

a grid of red dots with cyan spots and sprawling magenta lines scattered throughout

Video

Mingyu Yang and Anna Jagielska present the story behind their award-winning image.

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