We have developed a culture of neurons dissociated from the most Superficial laminae of the neonatal rat spinal cord dorsal horn (DH). By using the perforated patch-clamp technique, we distinguished four types of neurons based on their firing properties in response to intracellular injection of 900 ms lasting current pulses. Type 1 neurons were characterized by a tonic firing. Type 2 neurons displayed marked spike accommodation and fired brief (<500 ms) bursts of action potentials, whereas type 3 neurons fired a single spike, Type 4 neurons exhibited different types of firing patterns, but all of them possessed a time-dependent inwardly rectifying current activated by membrane hyperpolarization. Met-enkephalin-like immunoreactivity (met-ENK-LI) and glutamic acid decarboxylase-like immunoreactivity (GAD-LI) were colocalized in 42% of the neurons (n = 59), which were previously identified electrophysiologically. Type 1-4 neurons represented respectively 4, 64, 20, and 12% of the population of neurons colocalizing met-ENK-LI and GAD-LI. We conclude that the electrophysiological properties of DH neurons present in our cultures are similar to those described in acute slice or hemisected spinal cord preparations and that met- ENK-LI and GABA-LI are preferentially colocalized in type 2 neurons.
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