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J Neurosci Methods. 2006 Dec 15;158(2):251-9. Epub 2006 Jul 13.

Patch-clamp studies in the CNS illustrate a simple new method for obtaining viable neurons in rat brain slices: glycerol replacement of NaCl protects CNS neurons.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, New Jersey Medical School (UMDNJ), 185 South Orange Avenue, Newark, NJ 07103-2714, USA.


Viable neurons in brain slices are crucial for electrophysiological studies. The present study describes a new method for obtaining viable cells in several regions of the central nervous system including the ventral tegmental area, the hypothalamus, the periaqueductal grey matter and the spinal cord. The essence of the method was to use a modified artificial cerebrospinal fluid (ACSF) in which all NaCl was replaced initially by equi-osmotic glycerol. This modified glycerol-based ACSF was used during slice preparation. The underlying principle for the modification is to prevent the possible acute neurotoxic effects of passive chloride entry, subsequent cell swelling and lysis. This method significantly increased the live/dead ratio in morphology compared to the normal ACSF or sucrose-base ACSF, in which NaCl was replaced by sucrose. An examination of some electrophysiological and pharmacological properties of the neurons in these preparations, by means of current-clamp and voltage-clamp recordings, revealed similar properties of those neurons obtained with the traditional ACSF method. Due to the increase in the number of viable neurons, the new ACSF increases the productivity of experiments. Based on our data, we propose that this glycerol-based solution may protect CNS neurons.

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