Fetal rat striatal primordia were implanted into the neostriatum of adult rats 2 days after kainic acid lesion. Two to 6 mo after transplantation, in vivo intracellular recording and staining were performed to study the responses of spiny neurons in the grafts to the cortical and thalamic stimuli. The physiological characteristics and synaptic responses of 27 cells recorded in the grafts were compared with a sample of 23 neurons recorded from the surrounding host neostriatum in the same animals. Nineteen of the graft neurons and 19 of the host neurons were identified as spiny neurons by intracellular staining with biocytin. The responses of the remaining neurons were the same as those of identified spiny cells. The spontaneous synaptically driven membrane potential shifts and long-lasting responses to afferent stimulation that are characteristic of neostriatal cells in normal animals were greatly reduced or absent in graft neurons. Presumably this reflects the reduction in synaptic input to the grafts and the lack of convergence of inputs from diverse sources. Short-latency synaptic responses to cortical and thalamic stimulation were present and could consist of either excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) or inhibitory postsynaptic potentials (IPSPs). The IPSPs were accompanied by a membrane conductance increase, and their reversal potentials could be altered by injection of chloride ions. Several minutes after impaling the cell, the IPSPs gradually disappeared, and the same stimuli could then evoke EPSPs. The disappearance of the IPSPs was independent of the presence of chloride in the electrodes. Most of the EPSP responses appeared to be monosynaptic but occurred at longer latencies than those seen in host neurons of the same type. In cells not exhibiting IPSPs, or after the IPSP responses disappeared, cortical or thalamic stimulation could evoke slow depolarizing potentials and bursts of action potentials. These could not be evoked by current injection. They could be prevented or delayed by an exaggerated action potential afterhyperpolarization that developed in neurons maintained in a depolarized state for several seconds, but could not be prevented by passage of hyperpolarizing current from the recording electrode. The input resistance of graft spiny neurons was higher than that of the host cells, and time constants were longer. Both of these properties appeared to be due to the absence of the strong inward rectification that is usually present at resting membrane potentials in neostriatal neurons.
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