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Exp Brain Res. 1989;77(2):234-44.

Cellular organization and development of slice cultures from rat visual cortex.

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Max-Planck-Institut für biologische Kybernetik, Tübingen, Federal Republic of Germany.


Slice cultures from the visual cortex of young rats were prepared using the roller culture technique (Gähwiler 1984). After 10 days in vitro the cortical cultures flattened to 1-3 cell layers, surviving for up to 12 weeks. The cultures were organotypically organized, the typical layered structure of the cortex was preserved. The neuronal composition of slice cultures was studied using intracellular staining, Golgi impregnation and GABA immunohistochemistry. Both pyramidal cells and several types of nonpyramidal cells were identified in the slice cultures. Electrophysiological recordings showed that the electrical properties of cells in culture were similar to those measured in acute slice preparations; for some cells, however, the spontaneous activity was higher. The maintained activity was strongly increased by application of the GABA antagonist bicuculline and decreased by GABA, suggesting that GABAergic inhibition is present in these preparations. We could observe the postnatal maturation of some characteristic morphological features in culture. For example, pyramidal cells in 6 day-old rats in situ have very short basal dendrites with growth-cones, and the dendrites are free of spines. After 2-3 weeks in culture growth-cones were no longer observed. Instead, the cells had developed a large basal dendritic field and the dendrites were covered with spines. Slice cultures therefore may provide a useful tool for physiological, anatomical, pharmacological and developmental studies of cortical neurons in an organotypical environment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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