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Neuroscience. 2001;102(1):53-64.

Persistent sodium channel activity mediates subthreshold membrane potential oscillations and low-threshold spikes in rat entorhinal cortex layer V neurons.

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Montreal Neurological Institute, Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, McGill University, Qu├ębec, H3A 2B4, Montreal, Canada.


Entorhinal cortex layer V occupies a critical position in temporal lobe circuitry since, on the one hand, it serves as the main conduit for the flow of information out of the hippocampal formation back to the neocortex and, on the other, it closes a hippocampal-entorhinal loop by projecting upon the superficial cell layers that give rise to the perforant path. Recent in vitro electrophysiological studies have shown that rat entorhinal cortex layer V cells are endowed with the ability to generate subthreshold oscillations and all-or-none, low-threshold depolarizing potentials. In the present study, by applying current-clamp, voltage-clamp and single-channel recording techniques in rat slices and dissociated neurons, we investigated whether entorhinal cortex layer V cells express a persistent sodium current and sustained sodium channel activity to evaluate the contribution of this activity to the subthreshold behavior of the cells. Sharp-electrode recording in slices demonstrated that layer V cells display tetrodotoxin-sensitive inward rectification in the depolarizing direction, suggesting that a persistent sodium current is present in the cells. Subthreshold oscillations and low-threshold regenerative events were also abolished by tetrodotoxin, suggesting that their generation also requires the activation of such a low-threshold sodium current. The presence of a persistent sodium current was confirmed in whole-cell voltage-clamp experiments, which revealed that its activation "threshold" was negative by about 10mV to that of the transient sodium current. Furthermore, stationary noise analysis and cell-attached, patch-clamp recordings indicated that whole-cell persistent sodium currents were mediated by persistent sodium channel activity, consisting of relatively high-conductance ( approximately 18pS) sustained openings. The presence of a persistent sodium current in entorhinal cortex layer V cells can cause the generation of oscillatory behavior, bursting activity and sustained discharge; this might be implicated in the encoding of memories in which the entorhinal cortex participates but, under pathological situations, may also contribute to epileptogenesis and neurodegeneration.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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