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J Neurosci Methods. 2000 Jun 1;98(2):145-54.

Long-term maintenance of mature hippocampal slices in vitro.

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  • 1Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, State University of New York-Downstate Medical Center, Box 29, 450 Clarkson Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11203, USA.


Cultures of primary neurons or thin brain slices are typically prepared from immature animals. We introduce a method to prepare hippocampal slice cultures from mature rats aged 20-30 days. Mature slice cultures retain hippocampal cytoarchitecture and synaptic connections up to 3 months in vitro. Spontaneous epileptiform activity is rarely observed suggesting long-term retention of normal neuronal excitability and of excitatory and inhibitory synaptic networks. Picrotoxin, a GABAergic Cl(-) channel antagonist, induced characteristic interictal-like bursts that originated in the CA3 region, but not in the CA1 region. These data suggest that mature slice cultures displayed long-term retention of GABAergic inhibitory synapses that effectively suppressed synchronized burst activity via recurrent excitatory synapses of CA3 pyramidal cells. Mature slice cultures lack the reactive synaptogenesis, spontaneous epileptiform activity, and short life span that limit the use of slice cultures isolated from immature rats. Mature slice cultures are anticipated to be a useful addition for the in vitro study of normal and pathological hippocampal function.

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