Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 3313 Views Aug 5, 2021

The Substantia Nigra pars compacta (SNc) is a midbrain dopaminergic nucleus that plays a key role in modulating motor and cognitive functions. It is crucially involved in several disorders, particularly Parkinson’s disease, which is characterized by a progressive loss of SNc dopaminergic cells. Electrophysiological studies on SNc neurons are of paramount importance to understand the role of dopaminergic transmission in health and disease. Here, we provide an extensive protocol to prepare SNc-containing mouse brain slices and record the electrical activity of dopaminergic cells. We describe all the necessary steps, including mouse transcardiac perfusion, brain extraction, slice cutting, and patch-clamp recordings.

0 Q&A 2729 Views Jul 20, 2021

The whole-cell patch-clamp method is a gold standard for single-cell analysis of electrical activity, cellular morphology, and gene expression. Prior to our discovery that patch-clamp pipettes could be cleaned and reused, experimental throughput and automation were limited by the need to replace pipettes manually after each experiment. This article presents an optimized protocol for pipette cleaning, which enables it to be performed quickly (< 30 s), resulting in a high yield of whole-cell recording success rate (> 90%) for over 100 reuses of a single pipette. For most patch-clamp experiments (< 30 whole-cell recordings per day), this method enables a single pipette to be used for an entire day of experiments. In addition, we describe easily implementable hardware and software as well as troubleshooting tips to help other labs implement this method in their own experiments. Pipette cleaning enables patch-clamp experiments to be performed with higher throughput, whether manually or in an automated fashion, by eliminating the tedious and skillful task of replacing pipettes. From our experience with numerous electrophysiology laboratories, pipette cleaning can be integrated into existing patch-clamp setups in approximately one day using the hardware and software described in this article.

Graphic abstract:

Rapid enzymatic cleaning for reuse of patch-clamp pipettes

0 Q&A 4741 Views Jun 20, 2021

Characterization of an electrically active cell, such as a neuron, demands measurement of its electrical properties. Due to differences in gene activation, location, innervation patterns, and functions, the millions of neurons in the mammalian brain are tremendously diverse in their membrane characteristics and abilities to generate action potentials. These features can be measured with a patch-clamp technique in whole-cell current-clamp configuration followed by detailed post-hoc analysis of firing patterns. This analysis can be time-consuming, and different laboratories have their own methods to perform it, either manually or with custom-written scripts. Here, we describe in detail a protocol for firing-pattern registration in neurons of the ventral tegmental area (VTA) as an example and introduce a software for its fast and convenient analysis. With the help of this article, other research groups can easily apply this method and generate unified types of data that are comparable between brain regions and various studies.

Graphic abstract:

Workflow of the Protocol

0 Q&A 3228 Views Oct 5, 2020
We describe a protocol for preparing acute brain slices which can produce robust hippocampal sharp wave-ripples (SWRs) in vitro. The protocol is optimized for its simplicity and reliability for the preparation of solutions, slicing, and recovery incubation. Most slices in almost every mouse prepared though the protocol expressed vigorous spontaneous SWRs for ~24 h, compared to the 20-30% viability from "standard" low sodium slicing protocols. SWRs are spontaneous neuronal activity in the hippocampus and are essential for consolidation of episodic memory. Brain slices reliably expressing SWRs are useful for studying memory impairment and brain degeneration diseases in ex vivo experiments. Spontaneous expression of SWRs is sensitive to conditions of slicing and perfusion/oxygenation during recording. The amplitude and abundance of SWRs are often used as a biomarker for viable slices. Key improvements include fast circulation, a long recovery period (3-6 h) after slicing, and allowing tissue to recover at 32 °C in a well perfused incubation chamber. Slices in our custom-made apparatus can express spontaneous SWRs for many hours, suggesting a long period with balanced excitation and inhibition in the local networks. Slices from older mice (~postnatal 180 days) show similar viability to younger (postnatal 21-30) mice.
0 Q&A 3515 Views Jul 20, 2020
Slices of neuronal tissue maintain a high degree of topographical and functional properties of neurons and glia and therefore are extensively used for measurements of neuronal activity at the molecular, cellular and network levels. However, the lifespan of slice preparations is narrow, averaging of 6-8 hours. Moreover, the average viability of brain slices varies according to animal age and region of interest, leading to the high variability and low reproducibility of recorded data.

Previous techniques to increase the viability of brain slices focused on reducing cytotoxicity by chemical means, including alterations of the artificial cerebrospinal fluid (aCSF) composition to alleviate the direct damage of the slicing procedure or adding protective antioxidants to reduce cellular deterioration. In this protocol, we use a combination of hypothermia with firm control of the aCSF conditions in the recovery chamber (pH, temperature, and bacteria levels) to extend the slice viability significantly.

Given the breadth of its usage, improving slice viability and longevity can considerably increase data reproducibility and reduce the cost, time, and number of animals used in neurophysiological studies.
0 Q&A 4929 Views Mar 5, 2019
Acute cerebellar slices are widely used among neuroscientists to study the properties of excitatory and inhibitory synaptic transmission as well as intracellular signaling pathways involved in their regulation in cerebellum. The cerebellar cortex presents a well-organized circuitry, and several neuronal pathways can be stimulated and recorded reliably in acute cerebellar slices. A widely used acute cerebellar slice preparation technique was adapted from Edwards’ thin slice preparation method published in 1989 (Edwards et al., 1989). Most of the acute cerebellar slice preparation techniques use a vibrating microtome for slicing freshly dissected cerebellum from various animal species. Here we introduce a simpler method, which uses a tissue chopper to quickly prepare acute sagittal cerebellar slices from rodents. Cerebellum is dissected from the whole brain and sliced with a tissue chopper into 200-400 µm thick slices. Slices are allowed to recover in oxygenated aCSF at 37 °C for 1-2 h. Slices can then be used for electrophysiology or other types of experimentation. This method can be used to prepare cerebellar slices from mouse or rat aged from postnatal day 7 to 2 years. The preparation is faster and easier than other methods and provides a more versatile diversity of applications.

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