Identified Neurones Isolated From Leech CNS Make Selective Connections in Culture

Nature. 1979 Sep 6;281(5726):67-9. doi: 10.1038/281067a0.


Neurones cultured in vitro offer distinct advantages for studying how processes grow towards their targets and form synaptic connections. In contrast to the complex events occurring during the development of the nervous system, synapse formation in culture can be analysed in a few neurones at a time and under controlled conditions. We have now dissected out and cultured single identified neurones from the central nervous system (CNS) of the adult leech. Various types of sensory cells, motor cells, and interneurones can be identified in leech ganglia--each with a stereotyped set of properties, including: (1) the electrical characteristics of its membrane, (2) the arborisation of its branches and the morphology of its terminals and (3) the pattern of connections it makes with other identified neurones, skin or muscle. Thus, cultured cells can be compared in detail with their counterparts in situ. We have found that isolated cells survive for several weeks, maintain their membrane properties, sprout and form selective connections.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Culture Media
  • Ganglia / cytology
  • Intercellular Junctions / ultrastructure
  • Leeches / cytology*
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Neural Inhibition
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission


  • Culture Media