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Brain Res. 2011 Apr 18;1385:68-76. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2011.01.115.

Evaluation of cell damage in organotypic hippocampal slice culture from adult mouse: a potential model system to study neuroprotection.

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Key Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Channelopathies of Guangdong Province and Ministry of Education of China, Institute of Neuroscience and the Second Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University, Guangzhou, China.


The use of organotypic hippocampal slice culture (OHSC) has become a powerful tool for studying cell damage in different neuropathological states, since it reproduces the basic morphological and functional properties of hippocampal neuronal network. However, the conventional OHSCs are established from postnatal animals rather than adult. Here we reevaluated the features of cell death in adult OHSC in detail and found potential utility for the study of neuroprotection. Organotypic culture of hippocampal slices from adult mice under conventional conditions led to a time-dependent and reproducible cell death. Around 6days in vitro (DIV), slices lost 50% of the cells, based on LDH release assessment. The cell death was greater than 90% after DIV 15. The cell loss was linearly correlated (r=0.944, P<0.01) with the time in culture. The electrophysiological responses to the stimulus in the cultured adult slices were accordingly reduced. The cell degeneration during adult OHSC might be utilized as a tool for studying neuroprotective effects in drug development. To illustrate this potential use, adult OHSCs were challenged with brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). We found that the continuous supplementation of 300ng/ml BDNF promoted cell survival of adult OHSC. Using immunohistochemistry and Western blot analyses of neuronal markers, we also demonstrated the pro-survival effects of BDNF on neurons in the adult OHSC system. It is suggested that OHSCs from adult mice might provide an alternative model system for neuronal degeneration, suitable for studying physiological factors and pharmacological compounds contributing to neuronal survival.

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