Glycinergic transmission regulates dendrite size in organotypic culture

Dan H. Sanes, Aziz Hafidi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We previously demonstrated that inhibitory synaptic transmission influences dendrite development in vivo. We now report an analogous finding in an organotypic culture of a glycinergic projection nucleus, the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body (MNTB), and its postsynaptic target, the lateral superior olive (LSO) of gerbils. Cultures were generated at 6-7 days postnatal and grown in serum containing medium with or without the glycine receptor antagonist, strychnine (SN), at 2 μM. LSO neurons were then labeled with biocytin, and the dendritic arbors were analyzed morphometrically. Compared to neurons from age-matched in vivo tissue, the neurons cultured in control media were somewhat atrophic, including decreases in dendritic branching and length. Incubation in strychnine led to a dramatic increase in dendritic branching and total dendritic length. Control neurons averaged 6.3 branches, compared to 18 branches/neuron in SN-treated cultures. There was a similar increase in primary dendrites and total dendritic length. The physical elimination of MNTB cells did not mimic SN treatment, presumably because glycinergic LSO neurons generated intrinsic connections. In fact, the LSO soma area was significantly greater following MNTB removal, suggesting that these afferents provide a second signal to postsynaptic neurons. These results suggest that spontaneous glycinergic transmission regulates the growth of postsynaptic processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)503-511
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurobiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1996


  • dendrites
  • development
  • gerbil
  • glycine receptors
  • inhibition
  • lateral superior olive
  • strychnine
  • trophic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Glycinergic transmission regulates dendrite size in organotypic culture'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this