Survival and functional demonstration of interregional pathways in fore/midbrain slice explant cultures

M. P. Thomas, W. W. Webster, R. B. Norgren, D. T. Monaghan, R. A. Morrisett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


An important general question in neurobiology concerns the development and expression of the rich context of neuronal phenotypes, especially in relation to the diverse patterns of connectivity. Organotypic cultures of brain slices may offer distinct advantages for such studies if such a preparation survives, maintains a wide diversity of neuronal phenotypes and displays appropriate synaptic connections between regions. To address these requirements, we utilized long-term organotypic cultures of intact horizontal slices of rat forebrain and midbrain and assessed a variety of markers of phenotype in combination with functional tests of connectivity. This explant preparation displayed a distinct viability requirement such that the greatest explant survival was seen in slices taken from pups of less than postnatal day 7 and was independent of N-methyl-D-aspartate channel blockade. The anatomical features of the major brain regions (e.g., neocortex, striatum, septum, hippocampus, diencephalon and midbrain) were observed in their normal boundaries. The presence of cholinergic and catecholaminergic neurons was demonstrated with acetylcholinesterase histochemistry and tyrosine hydroxylase immunohistochemistry. Labelled neurons displayed multiple, regionally-appropriate cytoarchitectures and, in some cases, could be seen to project to brain regions in a manner quite similar to that seen in vivo. Finally, the direct demonstration of spontaneous and evoked interregional excitatory synaptic transmission was made using whole-cell patch-clamp recordings from striatal neurons which revealed an intact glutamate-using corticostriatal pathway. This simple explant preparation appears to contain a rich diversity of neuronal types and synaptic organization. Therefore, this preparation appears to have several distinct advantages for basic neurobiologic research since it combines long-term culture viability and many features of mature brain including complex interregional neuronal systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)615-626
Number of pages12
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 8 1998


  • Acetylcholine
  • Corticostriatal
  • Glutamate
  • Patch- clamp
  • Synaptic
  • Tyrosine hydroxylase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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