Simultaneous Ca2+ Imaging and Optogenetic Stimulation of Cortical Astrocytes in Adult Murine Brain Slices

Lakshmini Balachandar, Karla A. Montejo, Eleane Castano, Melissa Perez, Carolina Moncion, Jeremy W. Chambers, J. Luis Lujan, Jorge Riera Diaz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Astrocytes are actively involved in a neuroprotective role in the brain, which includes scavenging reactive oxygen species to minimize tissue damage. They also modulate neuroinflammation and reactive gliosis prevalent in several brain disorders like epilepsy, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's disease. In animal models, targeted manipulation of astrocytic function via modulation of their calcium (Ca2+) oscillations by incorporating light-sensitive cation channels like Channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) offers a promising avenue in influencing the long-term progression of these disorders. However, using adult animals for Ca2+ imaging poses major challenges, including accelerated deterioration of in situ slice health and age- related changes. Additionally, optogenetic preparations necessitate usage of a red-shifted Ca2+ indicator like Rhod-2 AM to avoid overlapping light issues between ChR2 and the Ca2+ indicator during simultaneous optogenetic stimulation and imaging. In this article, we provide an experimental setting that uses live adult murine brain slices (2-5 months) from a knock-in model expressing Channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2(C128S)) in cortical astrocytes, loaded with Rhod-2 AM to elicit robust Ca2+ response to light stimulation. We have developed and standardized a protocol for brain extraction, sectioning, Rhod-2 AM loading, maintenance of slice health, and Ca2+ imaging during light stimulation. This has been successfully applied to optogenetically control adult cortical astrocytes, which exhibit synchronous patterns of Ca2+ activity upon light stimulation, drastically different from resting spontaneous activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere110
JournalCurrent Protocols in Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Channelrhodopsin-2
  • Rhod-2 AM
  • astrocyte
  • calcium imaging
  • optogenetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Simultaneous Ca2+ Imaging and Optogenetic Stimulation of Cortical Astrocytes in Adult Murine Brain Slices'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this