An in vitro functionally mature mouse spinal cord preparation for the study of spinal motor networks

Brain Res. 1999 Jan 23;816(2):493-9. doi: 10.1016/s0006-8993(98)01199-8.


An in vitro isolated whole spinal cord preparation has been developed in 'motor functionally mature' mice; that is mice of developmental maturity sufficient to weight-bear and walk. In balb/c mice this stage occurs at around postnatal day 10 (P10). Administration of strychnine elicited synchronous activity bilaterally in lumbar ventral roots. Rhythmic alternating locomotor-like activity could be produced by application of a combination of serotonin (5-HT), N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA), and dopamine in animals up to P12. Using a live cell-dead cell assay, it is demonstrated that there are primarily viable cells throughout the lumbar spinal cord. The viability of descending pathways was demonstrated with stimulation of the mid-thoracic white matter tracts. In addition, polysynaptic segmental reflexes could be elicited. Although usually absent in whole cord preparations, monosynaptic reflexes could invariably be elicited following longitudinal midline hemisection, leading to the possible explanation that there might be an active crossed pathway producing presynaptic inhibition of primary afferent terminals. The data demonstrate that this functionally mature spinal cord preparation can be used for the study of spinal cord physiology including locomotion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Periodicity
  • Spinal Cord / growth & development
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*
  • Strychnine / pharmacology
  • Weight-Bearing


  • Strychnine