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Co-culture and organoids

Embracing in vitro complexity
Neurite extension from motor neurons to myotubes and synapse formation detected by Bungarotoxin staining

A new generation of co-culture complexity

Human cells rarely operate in isolation when in vivo so there’s no reason to culture them that way in vitro when you’re trying to model a complex structure like a neuromuscular junction (NMJ). Axol’s iPSC-derived cells can be grown in co-culture to provide a more physiologically relevant scenario for cellular development and function. We are specialists in developing complex co-culture methods including bi, tri and quad-culture options.

Co-culture can be applied in a mixed 2D format, layer or 3D methodologies. The new generation of microfluidic platforms opens the opportunity for spatial co-culture including neuro-muscular junction models. Co-culture can be used to study cell-cell interactions, mimic in vivo conditions, or test the effects of drugs on multiple cell types simultaneously.

Neuronal co-culture project

We took part in the PLATFORMA Project (an EU Horizon 2020-funded program), where we developed a microfluidic 2D co-culture system using our human iPSC-derived skeletal muscle cells and human iPSC-derived motor neurons.


By using co-culture of human iPSC-derived skeletal muscle cells and motor neurons in a 2D microfluidic chamber, you can develop a powerful in vitro model to study NMJ development and behavior. Being able to separate the cells in the chamber means you can make a clear distinction between cell types and markers, making it easier than ever to look deeper into cellular innervation and synapse development.

In another such study, fuchs et al., developed a co-culture system using glutamatergic neurons and pediatric high-grade glioma cells into microfluidic devices to assess electrical interactions. Their first step was to differentiate and characterize human glutamatergic neurons. Secondly, the cells were cultured in microfluidic devices with pHGG derived cell lines. Brain microenvironment and neuronal activity were then included in this model to analyze the electrical impact of pHGG cells on these micro-environmental neurons. Electrophysiological recordings are coupled using multielectrode arrays (MEA) to these microfluidic devices to mimic physiological conditions and to record the electrical activity of the entire neural network. A significant increase in neuron excitability was underlined in the presence of tumor cells.

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