Biophysical characterization of rat caudal hypothalamic neurons: Calcium channel contribution to excitability

Yi Ping Fan, Eric M. Horn, Tony G. Waldrop

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20 Scopus citations


Neurons in the caudal hypothalamus (CH) are responsible for the modulation of various processes including respiratory and cardiovascular output. Previous results from this and other laboratories have demonstrated in vivo that these neurons have firing rhythms matched to the respiratory and cardiovascular cycles. The goal of the present study was to characterize the biophysical properties of neurons in the CH with particular emphasis in those properties responsible for rhythmic firing behavior. Whole cell, patch-clamped CH neurons displayed a resting membrane potential of -58.0 ± 1.1 mV and an input resistance of 319.3 ± 16.6 MΩ when recorded in current-clamp mode in an in vitro brain slice preparation. A large proportion of these neurons displayed postinhibitory rebound (PIR) that was dependent on the duration and magnitude of hyperpolarizing current as well as the resting membrane potential of the cell. Furthermore these neurons discharged tonically in response to a depolarizing current pulse at a depolarized resting membrane potential (more positive than -65 mV) but switched to a rapid burst of firing to the same stimulus when the resting membrane potential was lowered. The PIR observed in these neurons was calcium dependent as demonstrated by the ability to block its amplitude by perfusion of Ca2+-free bath solution or by application of Ni2+ (0.3-0.5 mM) or nifedipine (10 μM). These properties suggest that low-voltage-activated (LVA) calcium current is involved in the PIR and bursting firing of these CH neurons. In addition, high-voltage-activated calcium responses were detected after blockade of outward potassium current or in Ba2+-replacement solution. In addition, almost all of the CH neurons studied showed spike frequency adaptation that was decreased following Ca2+ removal, indicating the involvement of Ca2+-dependent K+ current (I(K,Ca)) in these cells. In conclusion, CH neurons have at least two different types of calcium currents that contribute to their excitability; the dominant current is the LVA or T-type. This LVA current appears to play a significant role in the bursting characteristics that may underlie the rhythmic firing of CH neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2896-2903
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 27 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology

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