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Brain Res. 1986 Apr 30;372(1):21-30.

Electrical membrane properties of rat substantia nigra compacta neurons in an in vitro slice preparation.


The electrical membrane properties of rat substantia nigra pars compacta (SNC) neurons were studied in an in vitro slice preparation. Some of the recorded neurons were intracellularly labeled with HRP and were found to have morphological characteristics resembling the presumed SNC dopaminergic neurons, as reported by others. The input resistance of SNC neurons at resting membrane potential ranged between 70 and 250 M omega. The membrane resistance showed strong anomalous rectification when the membrane was hyperpolarized by current injection. The anomalous rectification was decreased by the addition of tetraethylammonium bromide (TEA) to the bathing Ringer solution. Injection of depolarizing current or termination of hyperpolarizing current induced slow depolarizing potentials. Their amplitude was dependent on the membrane potential and the current intensity. In neurons treated with tetrodotoxin (TTX) and TEA, slow action potentials were triggered from the slow depolarizing potentials. Both the slow depolarizing potential and slow action potential were TTX resistant and abolished by superfusion of Ca2+-free medium. Long duration hyperpolarizations were observed following the injection of depolarizing current pulses. The hyperpolarization was abolished by the superfusion of Ca2+-free medium or decreased by addition of TEA to the Ringer solution indicating an involvement of a Ca2+-dependent K+-conductance in generation of the hyperpolarization. The long duration hyperpolarization was also observed following action potentials. The spike after hyperpolarization consisted of an initial short duration fast component and a long lasting component. The amplitude of both components seems to be reduced but not abolished by TEA (up to 10 mM). When hyperpolarizing current pulses were applied to neurons that were held either continuously depolarized or were superfused with Ca2+-free medium, the pattern of the membrane potential after the offset of current pulses consisted of an initial fast and a later slow ramp-shaped phase. The latter was associated with a membrane conductance increase and interpreted to be due to an early K+ current. This early K+ current was relatively resistant to TEA. Injections of strong depolarizing currents triggered action potentials with multiple inflections on their rising phase. The amplitudes of action potentials changed abruptly during current application. These data indicate that SNC neurons have multiple generation sites for action potential.

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