To gain a better understanding of neurodegeneration mechanisms and for preclinical evaluation of new therapeutics more accurate models of neuronal tissue are required. Our strategy was based on the implementation of advanced engineered system, like membrane bioreactor, in which neurons were cultured in the extracapillary space of poly(l-lactic acid) (PLLA) microtube array (MTA) membranes within a dynamic device designed to recapitulate specific microenvironment of living neuronal tissue. The high membrane permeability and the optimized fluid dynamic conditions created by PLLA-MTA membrane bioreactor provide a 3D low-shear stress environment fully controlled at molecular level with enhanced diffusion of nutrients and waste removal that successfully develops neuronal-like tissue. This neuronal membrane bioreactor was employed as in vitro model of β-amyloid -induced toxicity associated to Alzheimer's disease, to test for the first time the potential neuroprotective effect of the isoflavone glycitein. Glycitein protected neurons from the events induced by β-amyloid aggregation, such as the production of ROS, the activation of apoptotic markers and ensuring the viability and maintenance of cellular metabolic activity. PLLA-MTA membrane bioreactor has great potential as investigational tool in preclinical research, contributing to expand the available in vitro devices for drug screening.
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