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Cereb Cortex. 2008 Feb;18(2):407-23. Epub 2007 Jun 14.

MGluR-mediated calcium waves that invade the soma regulate firing in layer V medial prefrontal cortical pyramidal neurons.

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Department of Neurobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, CT 06520, USA.


Factors that influence the activity of prefrontal cortex (PFC) pyramidal neurons are likely to play an important role in working memory function. One such factor may be the release of Ca2+ from intracellular stores. Here we investigate the hypothesis that metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs)-mediated waves of internally released Ca2+ can regulate the intrinsic excitability and firing patterns of PFC pyramidal neurons. Synaptic or focal pharmacological activation of mGluRs triggered Ca2+ waves in the dendrites and somata of layer V medial PFC pyramidal neurons. These Ca2+ waves often evoked a transient SK-mediated hyperpolarization followed by a prolonged depolarization that respectively decreased and increased neuronal excitability. Generation of the hyperpolarization depended on whether the Ca2+ wave invaded or came near to the soma. The depolarization also depended on the extent of Ca2+ wave propagation. We tested factors that influence the propagation of Ca2+ waves into the soma. Stimulating more synapses, increasing inositol trisphosphate concentration near the soma, and priming with physiological trains of action potentials all enhanced the amplitude and likelihood of evoking somatic Ca2+ waves. These results suggest that mGluR-mediated Ca2+ waves may regulate firing patterns of PFC pyramidal neurons engaged by working memory, particularly under conditions that favor the propagation of Ca2+ waves into the soma.

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