Electrophysiological and morphological characteristics of three subtypes of rat globus pallidus neurone in vitro

J Physiol. 2000 Sep 1;527 Pt 2(Pt 2):291-304. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7793.2000.t01-1-00291.x.


Neurones of the globus pallidus (GP) have been classified into three subgroups based on the visual inspection of current clamp electrophysiological properties and morphology of biocytin-filled neurones. Type A neurones (132/208; 63 %) were identified by the presence of the time- and voltage-dependent inward rectifier (Ih) and the low-threshold calcium current (It) giving rise to anodal break depolarisations. These cells were quiescent or fired regular spontaneous action potentials followed by biphasic AHPs. Current injection evoked regular activity up to maximum firing frequency of 350 Hz followed by moderate spike frequency adaptation. The somata of type A cells were variable in shape (20 x 12 micrometer) while their dendrites were highly varicose. Type B neurones (66/208; 32 %) exhibited neither Ih nor rebound depolarisations and only a fast monophasic AHP. These cells were spontaneously active while current injection induced irregular patterns of action potential firing up to a frequency of 440 Hz with weak spike frequency adaptation. Morphologically, these cells were the smallest encountered (15 x 10 micrometer), oval in shape with restricted varicose dendritic arborisations. Type C neurones were much rarer (10/208; 5 %). They were identified by the absence of Ih and rebound depolarisations, but did possess a prolonged biphasic AHP. They displayed large A-like potassium currents and ramp-like depolarisations in response to step current injections, which induced firing up to a maximum firing frequency of 310 Hz. These cells were the largest observed (27 x 15 micrometer) with extensive dendritic branching. These results confirm neuronal heterogeneity in the adult rodent GP. The driven activity and population percentage of the three subtypes correlates well with the in vivo studies (Kita & Kitai, 1991). Type A cells appear to correspond to type II neurones of Nambu & Llinas (1994, 1997) while the small diameter type B cells display morphological similarities with those described by Millhouse (1986). The rarely encountered type C cells may well be large cholinergic neurones. These findings provide a cellular basis for the study of intercellular communication and network interactions in the adult rat in vitro.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Calcium Channels / drug effects
  • Calcium Channels / physiology
  • Dendrites / physiology
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Electrophysiology
  • Globus Pallidus / cytology*
  • Globus Pallidus / physiology
  • Lysine / analogs & derivatives
  • Lysine / physiology
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Neurons / ultrastructure*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Calcium Channels
  • biocytin
  • Lysine