Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Neurophysiol. 1999 Nov;82(5):2590-601.

Muscarinic receptor activation induces depolarizing plateau potentials in bursting neurons of the rat subiculum.

Author information

  • 1Montreal Neurological Institute and Departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery and of Physiology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec H3A 2B4 Canada.


Acetylcholine functions as a neuromodulator in the mammalian brain by binding to specific receptors and thus bringing about profound changes in neuronal excitability. Activation of muscarinic receptors often results in an increased excitability of cortical cells. It is, however, unknown whether such an action is present in the subiculum, a limbic structure that may be involved in cognitive processes as well as in seizure propagation. Most rat subicular neurons are endowed of intrinsic membrane properties that make them fire action potential bursts. Using intracellular recordings from these bursting cells in a slice preparation, we report here that application of the cholinergic agonist carbachol (CCh, 30-100 microM) to medium containing ionotropic excitatory amino acid receptor antagonists reduces burst-afterhyperpolarizations (burst-AHPs) and discloses depolarizing plateau potentials that outlast the triggering current pulses by 140-2,800 ms. These plateau potentials appear with CCh concentrations >50 microM and are dependent on the resting membrane potential and on the intensity/duration of the triggering pulse; are recorded during application of tetrodotoxin (1 microM, n = 5 neurons); but are markedly reduced by replacing 82% of extracellular Na(+) with equimolar choline (n = 6). Plateau potentials also are abolished by Co(2+) (2 mM; n = 5) or Cd(2+) (1 mM; n = 2) application and by recording with electrodes containing the Ca(2+) chelator bis(2-aminophenoxy)ethane-N, N,N',N'-tetraacetic acid (0.2 M; n = 6). CCh-induced burst-AHP reduction and plateau potentials are reversed by the muscarinic antagonist atropine (0.5 microM, n = 7). In conclusion, our findings demonstrate a powerful muscarinic modulation of the intrinsic excitability of subicular bursting cells that is predominated by the appearance of plateau potentials. These changes in excitability may contribute to physiological processes such as learning or memory and play a role in the generation of epileptiform depolarizations. We propose that, as in other limbic structures, muscarinic plateau potentials in the subiculum are mainly due to a Ca(2+)-dependent nonselective cationic conductance.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk