Dendritic Ca2+ transients evoked by action potentials in rat dorsal cochlear nucleus pyramidal and cartwheel neurons

J Neurophysiol. 2003 Apr;89(4):2225-37. doi: 10.1152/jn.00709.2002. Epub 2002 Dec 4.


Simultaneous fluorescence imaging and electrophysiologic recordings were used to investigate the Ca(2+) influx initiated by action potentials (APs) into dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN) pyramidal cell (PC) and cartwheel cell (CWC) dendrites. Local application of Cd(2+) blocked Ca(2+) transients in PC and CWC dendrites, demonstrating that the Ca(2+) influx was initiated by dendritic Ca(2+) channels. In PCs, TTX eliminated the dendritic Ca(2+) transients when APs were completely blocked. However, the Ca(2+) influx could be partially recovered during an incomplete block of APs or when a large depolarization was substituted for the blocked APs. In CWCs, dendritic Ca(2+) transients evoked by individual APs, or simple spikes, were blocked by TTX and could be recovered during an incomplete block of APs or by a large depolarization. In contrast, dendritic Ca(2+) transients evoked by complex spikes, a burst of APs superimposed on a slow depolarization, were not blocked by TTX, despite eliminating the APs superimposed on the slow depolarization. These results suggest two different mechanisms for the retrograde activation of dendritic Ca(2+) channels: the first requires fast Na(+) channel-mediated APs or a large somatic depolarization, whereas the second is independent of Na(+) channel activation, requiring only the slow depolarization underlying complex spikes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Anesthetics, Local / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Cadmium / pharmacology
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Calcium Channels / physiology
  • Cell Size / physiology
  • Cochlear Nucleus / cytology
  • Cochlear Nucleus / physiology*
  • Dendrites / physiology*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology*
  • Pyramidal Cells / ultrastructure
  • Rats
  • Sodium Channels / physiology
  • Tetrodotoxin / pharmacology


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Calcium Channels
  • Sodium Channels
  • Cadmium
  • Tetrodotoxin
  • Calcium