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Morphologic and functional abnormalities that develop in kitten purkinje neurons during maintenance for months after maturation in organotypic cultures

Brain Research
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0006-8993(85)91059-5
  • Purkinje Cells
  • Organotypic Cultures
  • Intracellular Hrp
  • Computer Microscope
  • Quantitative Electrophysiology
  • Degenerative Changes
  • Age Dependence
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Abstract The morphologic and functional properties of the Purkinje cells (P-cells) grown for 10–11 weeks in organotypic cultures from newborn kitten cerebella were studied and compared to cultures which had been grown for 4–5 weeks under the same standard conditions. Electrophysiological and morphological data were obtained from HRP iontophoretically labeled neurons and were quantified by means of computerized techniques. Extracellular recordings of spontaneous activity showed that the 10–11-week-old P-cells had a pacemaker-like firing rate whereas the P-cells aged 4–5 weeks in vitro displayed a bursting activity. The qualitative morphological data evidenced abnormal swellings both on dendritic and axonal processes of the 10–11-week-old P-cells which were not present on the 4–5-week-old P-cells. The quantitative data revealed a significant decrease in the overall size of the dendritic network of the 10–11-week-old P-cells mainly due to a reduction in the total dendritic length and in the total number of dendritic segments, whereas the individual segment lengths remained almost unchanged. Dendritic spine counts showed no decrease in the dendritic density of these older P-cells. Such data suggest that the changes observed in 10–11-week-old cultured P-cells may be compared to the age-related changes occurring in vivo and that such in vitro models could be useful tools in the study of the pathology of aging. However, alternative factors other than senescence are discussed since they may account for some degenerative changes observed in the older cultured P-cells.

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