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J Neurophysiol. 2006 Oct;96(4):1860-76. Epub 2006 Jun 28.

Ionic mechanism underlying recovery of rhythmic activity in adult isolated neurons.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA.


Neurons exhibit long-term excitability changes necessary for maintaining proper cell and network activity in response to various inputs and perturbations. For instance, the adult crustacean pyloric network can spontaneously recover rhythmic activity after complete shutdown resulting from permanent removal of neuromodulatory inputs. Dissociated lobster stomatogastric ganglion (STG) neurons have been shown to spontaneously develop oscillatory activity via excitability changes. Rhythmic electrical stimulation can eliminate these oscillatory patterns in some cells. The ionic mechanisms underlying these changes are only partially understood. We used dissociated crab STG neurons to study the ionic mechanisms underlying spontaneous recovery of rhythmic activity and stimulation-induced activity changes. Similar to lobster neurons, rhythmic activity spontaneously develops in crab STG neurons. Rhythmic hyperpolarizing stimulation can eliminate, but more commonly accelerate, the emergence of stable oscillatory activity depending on Ca(2+) influx at hyperpolarized voltages. Our main finding is that upregulation of a Ca(2+) current and downregulation of a high-threshold K(+) current underlies the spontaneous homeostatic development of oscillatory activity. However, because of a nonlinear dependence on stimulus frequency, hyperpolarization-induced oscillations appear to be inconsistent with a homeostatic regulation of activity. We find no difference in the activity patterns or the underlying ionic currents involved between neurons of the fast pyloric and the slow gastric mill networks during the first 10 days in isolation. Dynamic-clamp experiments confirm that these conductance modifications can explain the observed activity changes. We conclude that spontaneous and stimulation-induced excitability changes in STG neurons can both result in intrinsic oscillatory activity via regulation of the same two conductances.

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