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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Perineuronal nets show intrinsic patterns of extracellular matrix differentiation in organotypic slice cultures.

Perineuronal nets (PNs), consisting of extracellular matrix proteoglycans, complexed with hyaluronan and colocalized with tenascins, are associated with distinct neuronal populations in mature mammalian brain. PNs have been shown to appear postnatally during the period of synaptic refinement and myelination, indicating the commencement of mature physiological properties of neurons. Here we show that the developmental patterns of formation of PNs are well preserved in organotypic slice cultures prepared from rats on postnatal day 3-5 and maintained in vitro for 3-10 weeks. Staining of cultures with Wisteria floribunda agglutinin and immunocytochemical detection of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans revealed developing PNs in the basal forebrain, mesencephalic regions, and the cerebellum after 2 weeks in vitro, and later in the neocortical areas and hippocampus. In contrast, neurons known to be devoid of PNs in the adult rat brain such as cholinergic basal forebrain neurons and catecholaminergic tegmental neurons differentiate without any formation of PNs in slice cultures. We show further that environmental factors influence the development of PNs around the net-associated types of neurons. Notably, chronic depolarization of the cultures, imposed by an elevated concentration of external potassium ions, enhanced the development of PNs. Blocking of calcium channels with magnesium chloride or with the L-type calcium channel blocker nifedipine, suppressed the development of PNs, while a block of voltage-gated sodium channels by tetrodotoxin had no obvious effects. The results show that extracellular matrix components specifically contribute to the organotypic patterns that develop in brain slice cultures. Evidence is provided that the differentiation of PNs is regulated by calcium-dependent signaling.[1]


  1. Perineuronal nets show intrinsic patterns of extracellular matrix differentiation in organotypic slice cultures. Brückner, G., Grosche, J. Experimental brain research. Experimentelle Hirnforschung. Expérimentation cérébrale. (2001) [Pubmed]
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