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Biophys J. 1999 Feb;76(2):846-60.

Properties of slow, cumulative sodium channel inactivation in rat hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons.

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Department of Neurobiology and Physiology, Institute for Neuroscience, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60208-3520 USA.


Sodium channels in the somata and dendrites of hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons undergo a form of long-lasting, cumulative inactivation that is involved in regulating back-propagating action potential amplitude and can influence dendritic excitation. Using cell-attached patch-pipette recordings in the somata and apical dendrites of CA1 pyramidal neurons, we determined the properties of slow inactivation on response to trains of brief depolarizations. We find that the amount of slow inactivation gradually increases as a function of distance from the soma. Slow inactivation is also frequency and voltage dependent. Higher frequency depolarizations increase both the amount of slow inactivation and its rate of recovery. Hyperpolarized resting potentials and larger command potentials accelerate recovery from slow inactivation. We compare this form of slow inactivation to that reported in other cell types, using longer depolarizations, and construct a simplified biophysical model to examine the possible gating mechanisms underlying slow inactivation. Our results suggest that sodium channels can enter slow inactivation rapidly from the open state during brief depolarizations or slowly from a fast inactivation state during longer depolarizations. Because of these properties of slow inactivation, sodium channels will modulate neuronal excitability in a way that depends in a complicated manner on the resting potential and previous history of action potential firing.

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