A method is described for the isolation and growth in vitro of fully differentiated neurones from the thoracic ganglia of adult cockroaches. The presence of insect blood in the culture system is shown to promote growth. The morphology of the growing neurones and the plasticity of the branching processes are described and growth rates are measured. Using a fluorescent Ca2+ indicator dye, changes of intracellular calcium levels in the growing neurones in response to K+ depolarization have been measured. The results, indicating the presence of voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels on neuronal processes in vitro, show that neurones can be maintained in a functional state for several weeks by this technique. Such preparations could prove useful for studying a variety of physiological and pharmacological properties of neurones, including the mechanisms controlling growth, synapse formation and neuronal interactions with other cell types.
- © 1991 by Company of Biologists