Send to

Choose Destination
Biophys J. 2003 Apr;84(4):2181-91.

Electrical excitability of the soma of sensory neurons is required for spike invasion of the soma, but not for through-conduction.

Author information

Department of Cell and Animal Biology, Institute of Life Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91904, Israel.


The cell soma of primary sensory neurons is electrically excitable, and is invaded by action potentials as they pass from the peripheral nerve, past the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) and toward the spinal cord. However, there are virtually no synapses in the DRG, and no signal processing is known to occur there. Why, then, are DRG cell somata excitable? We have constructed and validated an explicit model of the primary sensory neuron and used it to explore the role of electrical excitability of the cell soma in afferent signaling. Reduction and even elimination of soma excitability proved to have no detectable effect on the reliability of spike conduction past the DRG and into the spinal cord. Through-conduction is affected, however, by major changes in neuronal geometry in the region of the t-junction. In contrast to through-conduction, excitability of the soma and initial segment is essential for the invasion of afferent spikes into the cell soma. This implies that soma invasion has a previously unrecognized role in the physiology of afferent neurons, perhaps in the realm of metabolic coupling of the biosynthesis of signaling molecules required at the axon ends to functional demand, or in cell-cell interaction within sensory ganglia. Spike invasion of the soma in central nervous system neurons may play similar roles.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central Icon for ModelDB
Loading ...
Support Center