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Patch Clamp Recordings on Intact Dorsal Root Ganglia from Adult Rats

Published: September 29th, 2016



1Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, 2Department of Anatomy, University of California, San Francisco

This manuscript describes how to prepare intact dorsal root ganglia for patch clamp recordings. This preparation maintains the microenvironment for neurons and satellite glial cells, thus avoiding the phenotypic and functional changes seen using dissociated DRG neurons.

Patch clamp studies from dorsal root ganglia (DRGs) neurons have increased our understanding of the peripheral nervous system. Currently, the majority of recordings are conducted on dissociated DRG neurons, which is a standard preparation for most laboratories. Neuronal properties, however, can be altered by axonal injury resulting from enzyme digestion used in acquiring dissociated neurons. Further, dissociated neuron preparations cannot fully represent the microenvironment of the DRG since loss of contact with satellite glial cells that surround the primary sensory neurons is an unavoidable consequence of this method. To overcome the limitations in using conventional dissociated DRG neurons for patch clamp recordings, in this report we describe a method to prepare intact DRGs and conduct patch clamp recordings on individual primary sensory neurons ex vivo. This approach permits the fast and straightforward preparation of intact DRGs, mimicking in vivo conditions by keeping DRG neurons associated with their surrounding satellite glial cells and basement membrane. Furthermore, the method avoids axonal injury from manipulation and enzyme digestion such as when dissociating DRGs. This ex vivo preparation can additionally be used to study the interaction between primary sensory neurons and satellite glial cells.

Sensation is essential to an organism's survival and wellbeing. The transmission of stimuli is dependent on the sensory pathways starting at peripheral endings of axons from primary sensory neurons. Primary sensory neurons, with the exception of the mesencephalic nucleus of the trigeminal nerve, are located in the trigeminal ganglia and dorsal root ganglia (DRGs). They serve as gatekeepers of the sensory information 1. At the perikarial membrane, just as at the central and peripheral terminals, DRG neurons express receptors and ion channels, such as glutamate receptors, TNF alpha receptors, transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V member ....

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Ethics Statement: All procedures for the maintenance and use of the experimental animals conformed to the regulations of UCSF Committees on Animal Research and were carried out in accordance with the guidelines of the NIH regulations on animal use and care (Publication 85 - 23, Revised 1996). The UCSF Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee approved the protocols used in this study.

1. Preparation of Instruments, Solutions and Dishes

  1. Prepare Artificial Cerebrospinal Fluid (aCSF.......

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Figure 1 shows the process of preparing intact DRG for patch recording. Figure 1A shows the exposure and location of the ganglia after laminectomy. Figure1B shows L3, L4 and L5 DRGs with the nerve roots attached after removing the spinal cord. Then L4 and 5 DRGs are carefully dissected and freed from the vertebrae. Next, the epineurium, a transparent membrane surrounding the DRG, is removed (yellow arrow, Figure 1D). The .......

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We report a method to prepare whole DRGs for patch clamp studies. There are several key elements for preparing an ideal specimen. Firstly, it is important to dissect the DRGs with dorsal roots attached. After that, the epineurium need to be carefully removed while avoiding damage to the neurons. Finally, to expose the neurons and their surrounding satellite glial cells, it is necessary to digest the remaining connective tissue. Intact DRGs from adult rats prepared with the method described here will maintain good viabili.......

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The authors would like to acknowledge the Painless Research Foundation for support of the work. This work was also supported by the NIH grants R01 NS080921-01 and R21 NS079897-01A1.


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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
Pentobarbital sodium vortech Pharmaceuticals
syringe BD 309659 1 ml, 5 ml.
scalpel BD size: 15
Mayo straight scissor Fine Science Tools 14010-15
Mayo curved scissor Fine Science Tools 14011-15
Rongeur Fine Science Tools 16021-14
Adson toothed forceps Fine Science Tools 11027-12
Iris Scissor Fine Science Tools 14084-08
Noyes spring scissor Fine Science Tools 15124-12
Bone scissors Fine Science Tools 16044-10 Special for cutting the bones. 
Forceps: Dumont, Dumoxel Biologie #5 Fine Science Tools 11252-30 These have the fine tips that do not need sharpening when first purchased.
periosteal elevator Sklar 97-0530
Dissection microscope WILD
Transfer pipette Fisher brand 13-711-5AM
Petri dish (10 cm) Pyrex Glass petri dish can avoid damaging the tips of fine forceps
Collagenase (Liberase TM) Roche 05-401-119-001 dissolve at the concentration of 13 u/ml, aliquot into glass pipette. Avoid repeated freeze and thaw.
filter Thermo scientific 7232520 Filter the internal solutions for patch clamp recording to avoid clog.
Glass pipette Sutter BF150-110-7.5
Anchor Havard apparatus 64-0250 stabilize the DRG to avoid drift.
Peristaltic pump WPI
Pipette puller Sutter P97
Amplifier Molecular devices Axopatch 200B
Digitizer Molecular devices 1440D
Microscope NIKON FN600
Micro-manipulator Sutter MPC200
microinjection dispense system General Valve Picrospitzer II fast drug application system
Carbogen (95% O2, 5% CO2) Local Medical Gas supplier

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