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Eur J Neurosci. 2002 Feb;15(4):671-83.

Mechanisms controlling bursting activity induced by disinhibition in spinal cord networks.

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Department of Physiology, University of Bern, B├╝hlplatz 5, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland.


Disinhibition reliably induces regular synchronous bursting in networks of spinal interneurons in culture as well as in the intact spinal cord. We have combined extracellular multisite recording using multielectrode arrays with whole cell recordings to investigate the mechanisms involved in bursting in organotypic and dissociated cultures from the spinal cords of embryonic rats. Network bursts induced depolarization and spikes in single neurons, which were mediated by recurrent excitation through glutamatergic synaptic transmission. When such transmission was blocked, bursting ceased. However, tonic spiking persisted in some of the neurons. In such neurons intrinsic spiking was suppressed following the bursts and reappeared in the intervals after several seconds. The suppression of intrinsic spiking could be reproduced when, in the absence of fast synaptic transmission, bursts were mimicked by the injection of current pulses. Intrinsic spiking was also suppressed by a slight hyperpolarization. An afterhyperpolarization following the bursts was found in roughly half of the neurons. These afterhyperpolarizations were combined with a decrease in excitability. No evidence for the involvement of synaptic depletion or receptor desensitization in bursting was found, because neither the rate nor the size of spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic currents were decreased following the bursts. Extracellular stimuli paced bursts at low frequencies, but failed to induce bursts when applied too soon after the last burst. Altogether these results suggest that bursting in spinal cultures is mainly based on intrinsic spiking in some neurons, recurrent excitation of the network and auto-regulation of neuronal excitability.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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