Regulation of the rebound depolarization and spontaneous firing patterns of deep nuclear neurons in slices of rat cerebellum

J Neurophysiol. 1999 Oct;82(4):1697-709. doi: 10.1152/jn.1999.82.4.1697.


Current-clamp recordings were made from the deep cerebellar nuclei (DCN) of 12- to 15-day-old rats to understand the factors that mediate intrinsic spontaneous firing patterns. All of the cells recorded were spontaneously active with spiking patterns ranging continuously from regular spiking to spontaneous bursting with the former predominating. A robust rebound depolarization (RD) leading to a Na(+) spike burst was elicited after the offset of hyperpolarizing current injection. The voltage and time dependence of the RD was consistent with mediation by low-threshold voltage-gated Ca(2+) channels. In addition, induction of a RD also may be affected by activation of a hyperpolarization-activated cation current, I(h). A RD could be evoked efficiently after brief high-frequency bursts of inhibitory postsynaptic potentials (IPSPs) induced by stimulation of Purkinje cell axons. IPSP-driven RDs were typically much larger and longer than those elicited by direct hyperpolarizing pulses of approximately matched amplitude and duration. Intracellular perfusion of the Ca(2+) buffer bis-(o-aminophenoxy)-N,N,N',N'-tetraacetic acid (BAPTA) dramatically enhanced the RD and its associated spiking, sometimes leading to a plateau potential that lasted several hundred milliseconds. The effects of BAPTA could be mimicked partly by application of apamin, a blocker of small conductance Ca(2+)-gated K(+) channels, but not by paxilline, which blocks large conductance Ca(2+)-gated K(+) channels. Application of both BAPTA and apamin, but not paxilline, caused cells that were regularly spiking to burst spontaneously. Taken together, our data suggest that there is a strong relationship between the ability of DCN cells to elicit a RD and their tendency burst spontaneously. The RD can be triggered by the opening of T-type Ca(2+) channels with an additional contribution of hyperpolarization-activated current I(h). RD duration is regulated by small-conductance Ca(2+)-gated K(+) channels. The RD also is modulated tonically by inhibitory inputs. All of these factors are in turn subject to alteration by extrinsic modulatory neurotransmitters and are, at least in part, responsible for determining the firing modes of DCN neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anesthetics, Local / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Apamin / pharmacology
  • Bicuculline / analogs & derivatives
  • Bicuculline / pharmacology
  • Calcium Channels / physiology
  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • Egtazic Acid / analogs & derivatives
  • Egtazic Acid / pharmacology
  • Evoked Potentials / drug effects
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Indoles / pharmacology
  • Lidocaine / analogs & derivatives
  • Lidocaine / pharmacology
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Neurotoxins / pharmacology
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Rats
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • Virulence Factors, Bordetella / pharmacology


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Calcium Channels
  • Indoles
  • Neurotoxins
  • Virulence Factors, Bordetella
  • QX-314
  • Apamin
  • paxilline
  • bicuculline methiodide
  • Egtazic Acid
  • Lidocaine
  • 1,2-bis(2-aminophenoxy)ethane-N,N,N',N'-tetraacetic acid
  • Bicuculline