Effect of acute stretch injury on action potential and network activity of rat neocortical neurons in culture

George C. Magou, Bryan J. Pfister, Joshua R. Berlin

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25 Scopus citations


The basis for acute seizures following traumatic brain injury (TBI) remains unclear. Animal models of TBI have revealed acute hyperexcitablility in cortical neurons that could underlie seizure activity, but studying initiating events causing hyperexcitability is difficult in these models. In vitro models of stretch injury with cultured cortical neurons, a surrogate for TBI, allow facile investigation of cellular changes after injury but they have only demonstrated post-injury hypoexcitability. The goal of this study was to determine if neuronal hyperexcitability could be triggered by in vitro stretch injury. Controlled uniaxial stretch injury was delivered to a spatially delimited region of a spontaneously active network of cultured rat cortical neurons, yielding a region of stretch-injured neurons and adjacent regions of non-stretched neurons that did not directly experience stretch injury. Spontaneous electrical activity was measured in non-stretched and stretch-injured neurons, and in control neuronal networks not subjected to stretch injury. Non-stretched neurons in stretch-injured cultures displayed a three-fold increase in action potential firing rate and bursting activity 30-60 min post-injury. Stretch-injured neurons, however, displayed dramatically lower rates of action potential firing and bursting. These results demonstrate that acute hyperexcitability can be observed in non-stretched neurons located in regions adjacent to the site of stretch injury, consistent with reports that seizure activity can arise from regions surrounding the site of localized brain injury. Thus, this in vitro procedure for localized neuronal stretch injury may provide a model to study the earliest cellular changes in neuronal function associated with acute post-traumatic seizures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)525-535
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Research
StatePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


  • Action potential
  • Bursting activity
  • Current clamptechnique
  • Hyperexcitability
  • Hypoexcitability
  • Traumatic braininjury


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