Age-dependent appearance of synaptic currents in rat neocortical neurons in culture

C. Zona, E. Palma, A. Brancati, M. Avoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rat neocortical neurons grown in dissociated cell culture were recorded with the whole-cell patch-clamp technique. Spontaneous inward currents were observed in cells that were held at a membrane potential of -80 mV in medium containing tetrodotoxin and Cd2+. These currents displayed amplitudes up to 140 pA and rise time of 1.8 ± 0.2 ms (mean ± SD, n = 15). They reversed near 0 mV and showed no voltage-dependent frequency of occurrence. Hence, they were presumably due to spontaneous release of transmitter. The inward currents appeared around day 10 in culture and were detected up to 4 weeks. When cells of different ages were compared, the maximal probability of recording these inward events occurred at around 3 weeks in culture. The inward currents were not reduced by application of bicuculline methiodide which is a competitive antagonist of the GABA(A) receptor, but were blocked by the broad-spectrum glutamate receptor antagonist kynurenic acid. Moreover, spontaneous inward events were not affected by DL-2-aminophosphono-valerate (NMDA receptor antagonist) but disappeared following application of the non- NMDA receptors antagonist 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (CNQX). Our observations indicate that the inward currents represent miniature synaptic events that are primarily mediated by non-NMDA excitatory amino acid receptor subtypes. Furthermore, our findings indicate that they develop over time and are not present in neurons that are grown in culture for less than 10 days.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pharmacology


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