This protocol outlines the preparation of embryonic mouse retinal explants, which provides an effective technique to analyze neurite outgrowth in central nervous system (CNS) neurons. This validated ex vivo system, which displays limited neuronal death, is highly reproducible and particularly amenable to manipulation. Our previously published studies involving embryonic chick or adult mouse retinal explants were instrumental in the preparation of this protocol; aspects of these previous techniques were combined, adopted and optimized. This protocol thus permits more efficient analysis of neurite growth. Briefly, the retina is dissected from the embryonic mouse eye using precise techniques that take into account the small size of the embryonic eye. The approach applied ensures that the retinal ganglion cell (RGC) layer faces the adhesion substrate on coated cover slips. Neurite growth is clear, well-delineated and readily quantifiable. These retinal explants can therefore be used to examine the neurite growth effects elicited by potential therapeutic agents.

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Keywords Neurite growth, Retinal explant, Retinal ganglion cell
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Journal Experimental Eye Research
Hanea, S.T. (Sonia T.), Shanmugalingam, U. (Ushananthini), Fournier, A.E. (Alyson E.), & Smith, P. (2016). Preparation of embryonic retinal explants to study CNS neurite growth. Experimental Eye Research, 146, 304–312. doi:10.1016/j.exer.2016.04.004