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Neuroreport. 1999 Nov 26;10(17):3711-6.

Potentiation of Ca2+ influx through NMDA channels by action potentials: a computer model.

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  • 1Neuroscience Training Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 53706, USA.


In pyramidal cells, somatic action potentials can propagate actively back into the apical dendrites and potentiate calcium influx at simultaneously activated glutamatergic synapses, presumably by relieving the voltage-dependent block of NMDA channels. We have used computer simulations to investigate the conditions under which this potentiation will be optimal. We find that a spike with a long duration and limited amplitude (peak of approximately -10 mV) will be most effective. A back-propagating action potential will achieve this form if the dendritic membrane has a low K+ channel density and a modest Na+ channel density (30-70 pS/microm2, similar to experimentally observed densities). The relative increase in calcium due to the backpropagating spike will be small, however, unless the accumulated calcium is rapidly removed.

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