Douglas Mental Health University Institute, McGill University
This image shows dopamine neurons, which underlie many important processes in the brain. Losing them can impact movement, mood and addiction. Obtaining dopaminergic neurons from live animals to study is difficult, so we make these neurons by culturing them from stem cells. In this image, a sphere of dopaminergic neurons is shown one day after attaching to a coverslip. The neurons have been stained —a mature dopaminergic marker in red, and an immature dopaminergic marker in green. The more immature dopaminergic neurons, on the exterior of the sphere, have extended processes and have migrated away from the central sphere, giving the impression of a shining star. We use this process to produce highly pure cultures of dopaminergic neurons, allowing us to model how the human midbrain can be affected by environmental and genetic factors that may contribute to neurological disease.