Human fetal neurons in culture: Intercellular communication and voltage‐ and ligand‐gated responses

F. ‐C Chiu, R. Rozental, C. Bassallo, W. D. Lyman, D. C. Spray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


We established high density primary cultures of neural cells from dissociated second trimester human fetal brains using a novel spin seeding method. Under our culture conditions, the majority of the cells exhibited neuronal phenotypes as evidenced by morphological criteria, immunoreactivity to the 66 kDa neurofilament protein and expression of TTX‐sensitive Na+ channels and cell excitability. These cultures were enriched in glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), the synthetic enzyme of the neurotransmitter GABA, and responded with Ca2+ influx to acute application of glutamate. Interestingly, the human fetal neurons in culture did not express either dopaminergic or cholinergic phenotypes. In addition, the population of neurons obtained express a high incidence of gap junction‐mediated intercellular communication. These studies provide evidence that functional neuronal properties arise early during prenatal development in humans and offer the potential to evaluate pharmacological agents on primary human neurons. © 1994 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)687-697
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 15 1994


  • GAD
  • NMDA receptors
  • gap junctions
  • human fetal neurons
  • spin seeding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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