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Anatomical and functional reconstruction of the (...)

J Neurosci Res. 1999 Nov ;58(4):553-66
Anatomical and functional reconstruction of the nigrostriatal system in vitro : selective innervation of the striatum by dopaminergic neurons.
Becq H, Bosler O, Geffard M, Enjalbert A, Herman JP.

To study development of the nigrostriatal pathway in an in vitro model system, organotypic slices obtained from rat pups (P4) and containing the striatum and the cortex were grown together with apposed embryonic (E13.5) mesencephalic blocks according to the static slice culture method of Stoppini et al. (1991 ; J. Neurosci. Methods 37:173-182). Under these conditions, mesencephalic dopaminergic (DA) fibers rapidly grow through the slice, preferentially its striatal portion. This innervation provides a true synaptic innervation to the striatum, as shown by the presence of DA terminals on striatal neurons. DA fibers are able to exert a functional influence, as seen by their ability to modulate c-Fos expression in striatal neurons in the same way as in vivo. Thus, blockade, under basal conditions, of the effect of spontaneously released dopamine by the D2 receptor antagonist haloperidol leads to the activation of c-Fos expression in the striatum. Furthermore, stimulation of DA release by amphetamine induces striatal c-Fos expression in a D1 receptor-dependent manner. Next, the mechanisms of the selective striatal innervation were examined. Indeed, DA fibers innervated specifically the striatum, avoiding the cortical portion of the slice. This selectivity seems to be specific for DA neurons ; no selectivity could be observed when noradrenergic neurons were substituted for DA neurons. Short-term cocultures in a collagen gel of mesencephalic blocks with striatal blocks failed to reveal any oriented outgrowth of DA fibers from the mesencephalon, suggesting that the selective innervation observed in the organotypic slices results from some contact-dependent, presumably adhesive interactions rather than from the presence of some diffusible substance orienting the growth of DA fibers towards the striatum. On the other hand, DA neurons seeded onto striatal slices did not attach selectively onto the striatal portion of the slice, indicating that the putative specific adhesive interactions governing the selective striatal innervation are not the same as those determining the adhesion of the DA neurons. These results show that cocultures of cortex-striatum and mesencephalic slices result in a system that displays a number of the morphological and functional traits of the normal nigrostriatal system and that can be relied on as a good in vitro model of in vivo development.


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