Properties of cochlear nucleus neurons in primary culture

Janet L. Fitzakerley, Karen L. Schaefer, Rebecca A. Kitko, Paul B. Manis

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10 Scopus citations


Dissociated primary cell cultures were derived from the cochlear nuclei (CN) of postnatal rats using standard techniques. Cultured cells differentiated morphologically, but their dendritic profiles were generally less specialized than those of CN cells in vivo. Physiologically, cultured cells could be divided into three classes: tonic, phasic and non-spiking cells, which differed in many of their fundamental biophysical properties. The percentage of cultured cells that spiked repetitively increased over time to a maximum of 85% at 6 days. However, the percentage of cells that produced action potentials decreased with time in culture, from 91% during the first 8 days to less than 40% after 9 days. CN cells were successfully cultured in both serum-supplemented and serum-free (Neurobasal) media. More neurons survived at low plating densities in Neurobasal than in medium containing serum, although neuronal survival was similar at higher densities. Few neurons raised in the serum-free medium were spontaneously active; other response properties were similar to those of cells grown in the presence of serum. Although differentiation of CN cells in culture did not completely mirror the in vivo developmental pattern, these experiments demonstrate that primary culture represents a viable method for the in vitro study of CN neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-168
Number of pages21
JournalHearing Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Dec 1997

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Thesee xperimentwse res upportedb y NIDCD grants R01 DC00425 (P.B.M.), K04 DC00048 (P.B.M.), DC00979 (ResearchT rainingCenter in Hearing and Balance),a nd the W,M. Keck Foundation.


  • Auditory brainstem
  • Cochlear nucleus
  • Culture medium
  • Primary culture
  • Whole-cell recording


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