Intrinsic bursting activity in the pre-Bötzinger complex: role of persistent sodium and potassium currents

Biol Cybern. 2004 Jan;90(1):59-74. doi: 10.1007/s00422-003-0447-1. Epub 2004 Jan 21.


Computational models of single pacemaker neuron and neural population in the pre-Bötzinger Complex (pBC) were developed based on the previous models by Butera et al. (1999a,b). Our modeling study focused on the conditions that could define endogenous bursting vs. tonic activity in single pacemaker neurons and population bursting vs. asynchronous firing in populations of pacemaker neurons. We show that both bursting activity in single pacemaker neurons and population bursting activity may be released or suppressed depending on the expression of persistent sodium ( I(Na) P) and delayed-rectifier potassium ( I(K)) currents. Specifically, a transition from asynchronous firing to population bursting could be induced by a reduction of I(K) via a direct suppression of the potassium conductance or through an elevation of extracellular potassium concentration. Similar population bursting activity could be triggered by an augmentation of I(Na) P. These findings are discussed in the context of the possible role of population bursting activity in the pBC in the respiratory rhythm generation in vivo vs. in vitro and during normal breathing in vivo vs. gasping.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Potassium Channels / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Sodium Channels / physiology*


  • Potassium Channels
  • Sodium Channels