Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 106, Issue 2, pp 205–214 | Cite as

Electrophysiological characterization of dopaminergic and non-dopaminergic neurones in organotypic slice cultures of the rat ventral mesencephalon

  • B. H. Steensen
  • S. Nedergaard
  • K. Østergaard
  • J. D. C. Lambert
Research Article


The aim of the present study was to characterize electrophysiologically neurones in organotypic cultures of the rat ventral mesencephalon and to compare these results with results published for the same neurones in other types of preparation. Intracellular recordings were obtained in 3- to 8-week-old organotypic slice cultures of the ventral mesencephalon prepared from newborn rats. Dopaminergic neurones were distinguished from non-dopaminergic neurones by staining with the autofluorescent serotonin analogue 5,7-dihydroxytryptamine and briefly viewing the preparation with short exposures to ultraviolet (UV) light (365 nm). Short exposures to UV light did not affect the electrophysiological properties. There were no significant differences between dopaminergic and non-dopaminergic neurones with regard to resting membrane potential or action potential threshold and amplitude, and in both types of neurone spontaneous burst activity and glutamatergic excitatory postsynaptic potentials were seen. There were differences in the following parameters, which can be used to distinguish between the two types of neurone. Dopaminergic neurones had broad action potentials (2–9 ms), high input resistance (mean 81 MΩ), were silent or fired spontaneously at a low frequency (0–9 Hz), and no spontaneous GABAA-ergic inhibitory postsynaptic potentials or inward rectification were present. In contrast, non-dopaminergic neurones had fast action potentials (0.6–3.2 ms), low input resistance (mean 32 MΩ), were silent or fired spontaneously at relatively high firing frequency (0–28 Hz), and sometimes inhibitory postsynaptic potentials and inward rectification were seen. In the presence of 1 μM tetrodotoxin and 10 mM tetraethylammonium, Ca2+ spikes could be evoked in both dopaminergic and non-dopaminergic neurones. Dopaminergic neurones in 3- to 8-week-old organotypic slice cultures have a number of distinguishing electrophysiological characteristics similar to those recorded in other types of acute or cultured preparations. However, some intrinsic regulatory mechanisms, namely the slow oscillatory potentials, inward rectification and the K+ current, IA, seem to be missing in the cultured neurones.

Key words

Organotypic slice culture 5,7-Dihydroxytryptamine Dopaminergic neurones Ventral mesencephalon Substantia nigra Rat 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. H. Steensen
    • 1
  • S. Nedergaard
    • 1
  • K. Østergaard
    • 2
  • J. D. C. Lambert
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Physiology, University of AarhusÅrhus CDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Anatomy and Cell BiologyUniversity of OdenseOdense CDenmark

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