A new organotypic culture method to study the actions of steroid hormones on the nervous system

A. Levy*, L. M. Garcia Segura, Z. Nevo, Y. David, F. Naftolin, A. Shahar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


A new organotypic culture method for growing slices of nervous system tissue, based on the use of hyaluronic acid as a growth supporting milieu, is described. This method allows cultures derived from either fetuses or newborns to grow and develop with markedly reduced amounts of added serum. Organotypic cultures from fetal rat hypothalamus were exposed to 17β estradiol and compared to control cultures exposed to the ethanol vehicle. When exposed to estradiol, cultures showed an outgrowth of thick nerve fibers that was accompanied by an elevation in the number of microtubules present in the neuronal processes, an increment in the number of synapses, and an increased morphological differentiation of synaptic terminals. Freeze- fracture analysis of neuronal membranes from estradiol-treated cultures revealed a significant increase in the number of exoendocytotic images and a decrease in the number of intramembranous particles. Estradiol's effects parallel those found in in vivo studies, indicating that hyaluronic acid- based organotypic cultures represent an appropriate model to study hormonal influences on the developing nervous system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)719-725
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1996


  • estrogen
  • hyaluronic acid
  • hypothalamus
  • slice cultures


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