The electrical impedance of cell membranes is important for excitable cells, such as neurons, because it strongly influences the amount of membrane potential change upon a flow of ionic current across the membrane. Here, we report on an investigation of how neuronal morphology affects membrane impedance of cultured hippocampal neurons. Microfabricated substrates with patterned scaffolding molecules were used to restrict the neurite growth of hippocampal neurons, and the impedance was measured via whole-cell patch-clamp recording under the inhibition of voltage-dependent ion channels. Membrane impedance was found to depend inversely on the dendrite length and soma area, as would be expected from the fact that its electrical property is equivalent to a parallel RC circuit. Moreover, we found that in biological neurons, the membrane impedance is homeostatically regulated to impede changes in the membrane area. The findings provide direct evidence on cell-autonomous regulation of neuronal impedance and pave the way towards elucidating the mechanism responsible for the resilience of biological neuronal networks.
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