Epileptiform activity in microcultures containing one excitatory hippocampal neuron

J Neurophysiol. 1991 Apr;65(4):761-70. doi: 10.1152/jn.1991.65.4.761.


1. Paroxysmal depolarizing shifts (PDSs) occur during interictal epileptiform activity. Sustained depolarizations are characteristic of ictal activity, and events resembling PDSs also occur during the sustained depolarizations. To study these elements of epileptiform activity in a simpler context, I used the in vitro chronic-excitatory-block model of epilepsy of Furshpan and Potter and the microculture technique of Segal and Furshpan. 2. Intracellular recordings were made from 93 single-neuron microcultures. Forty of these solitary neurons were excitatory, their action potentials were replaced by PDS-like events or sustained depolarizations as kynurenate was removed from the perfusion solution. PDS-like events were similar to PDSs in intact cortex, mass cultures, and microcultures with more than one neuron. Small voltage fluctuations were also seen in solitary excitatory neurons in the absence of recorded action potentials. Sustained depolarizations developed in 5 of the 40 excitatory neurons. Forty-eight of the 93 solitary neurons were inhibitory, with bicuculline-sensitive hyperpolarizations after the action potential (ascribable to gamma-aminobutyric acid-A autapses). None of the solitary inhibitory neurons displayed sustained depolarizations. Five of the 93 neurons were insensitive to both kynurenate and bicuculline and were not placed in either the excitatory or the inhibitory category. 3. Both N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) and non-NMDA glutamate receptors contributed to the PDS-like events and sustained depolarizations. Only a non-NMDA glutamate receptor component was evident for the small voltage fluctuations. 4. Intracellular recordings were also made from two-neuron microcultures, each containing one excitatory neuron and one inhibitory neuron. Sustained depolarizations developed in five microcultures, in each case only in the excitatory neuron.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Separation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Electrophysiology
  • Epilepsy / pathology
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology*
  • Glutamates / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology*
  • Microscopy, Phase-Contrast
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter / physiology


  • Glutamates
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter