Physiology of CNS Tissues in Culture

  • Stanley M. Crain


Small explants (ca. 1 mm3) of fetal rodent CNS tissues can form characteristic synaptic networks that generate progressively more complex organotypic bioelectric activities as they mature in long-term cultures (Crain, 1966, 1970, 1974a, 1975). CNS explants provide valuable model systems for correlative cytologic, electrophysiologic, and biochemical analyses of brain functions under conditions that permit flexible manipulations of the physicochemical environment of the neural tissues. In addition to relatively unspecific discharges of complex synaptically organized arrays of internuncial neurons in various CNS explants, e.g., cord, brainstem, cerebrum (Crain, 1966), more recent studies have demonstrated the development in vitro of a remarkable degree of specificity in the bioelectric discharge patterns and pharmacologic sensitivities of particular synaptic networks which may also maintain characteristic histologic organization within the ex-planted CNS tissue (Crain and Peterson, 1974a). Organotypic bioelectric activities also develop in small clusters of neurons that reaggregate in vitro after complete dissociation and random dispersion of fetal mouse cerebral cortex, brainstem, or spinal cord cells (Crain and Bornstein, 1972; Nelson and Peacock, 1973; Peacock et al, 1973). Techniques are therefore now available for the preparation of neuronal arrays in cultures of varying complexity, ranging from intact explants, containing a few thousand closely packed neurons and glial cells, down to monolayers of completely separated neurons.


Dorsal Root Ganglion Dorsal Root Ganglion Neuron Balance Salt Solution Bioelectric Activity Primary Afferent Depolarization 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stanley M. Crain
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Neuroscience and Physiology, The Rose F. Kennedy Center for Research in Mental Retardation and Human DevelopmentAlbert Einstein College of MedicineBronxUSA

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