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Cell Calcium. 2006 May;39(5):455-66. Epub 2006 Mar 13.

Modulation of neuronal excitability by intracellular calcium buffering: from spiking to bursting.

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Laboratoire de Neurophysiologie, Faculté de Médecine, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Route de Lennik 808, B-1070 Bruxelles, Belgium.


We have investigated the detailed regulation of neuronal firing pattern by the cytosolic calcium buffering capacity using a combination of mathematical modeling and patch-clamp recording in acute slice. Theoretical results show that a high calcium buffer concentration alters the characteristic regular firing of cerebellar granule cells and that a transition to various modes of oscillations occurs, including bursting. Using bifurcation analysis, we show that this transition from spiking to bursting is a consequence of the major slowdown of calcium dynamics. Patch-clamp recordings on cerebellar granule cells loaded with a high concentration of the fast calcium buffer BAPTA (15 mM) reveal dramatic alterations in their excitability as compared to cells loaded with 0.15 mM BAPTA. In high calcium buffering conditions, granule cells exhibit all bursting behaviors predicted by the model whereas bursting is never observed in low buffering. These results suggest that cytosolic calcium buffering capacity can tightly modulate neuronal firing patterns leading to generation of complex patterns and therefore that calcium-binding proteins may play a critical role in the non-synaptic plasticity and information processing in the central nervous system.

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