The search for alternative biological preparations comprising the structural and functional complexity of the whole brain is needed for the accurate development of acute and chronic pharmacological and toxicological studies. A good, easy-to-obtain and easy-to-use preparation is the isolated cortical slices from rodents. This preparation maintains all the cytoarchitecture of the brain cortex, preserving the complexity of this region and keeping functional aspects intact for a short period of time. If appropriately incubated and/or cultured, it represents an accurate model of the synaptic circuitry and combines the functions all cell types that are found in an in vivo system. Indeed, neurochemical, neurophysiological, and neurotoxicological studies using incubated and/or cultured slices represent a practical interphase between in vitro studies with cultured brain cells and in vivo studies in living animals. Here we describe several advantages of this preparation for simple acute neurotoxicological studies and some of the experimental approaches that, in our experience, can reveal, in a rapid manner, neurotoxic and neuroprotective profiles of several molecules in different acute toxic models. We also review and describe basic elements for the establishment of culturing conditions for this preparation to be employed in chronic toxic models. Through these review processes, we aim to provide simple basis for extending the use of this preparation in neuroscience research.
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