Somato-dendritic mechanisms underlying the electrophysiological properties of hypothalamic magnocellular neuroendocrine cells: a multicompartmental model study

J Comput Neurosci. 2007 Oct;23(2):143-68. doi: 10.1007/s10827-007-0024-z. Epub 2007 May 5.


Magnocellular neuroendocrine cells (MNCs) of the hypothalamus synthesize the neurohormones vasopressin and oxytocin, which are released into the blood and exert a wide spectrum of actions, including the regulation of cardiovascular and reproductive functions. Vasopressin- and oxytocin-secreting neurons have similar morphological structure and electrophysiological characteristics. A realistic multicompartmental model of a MNC with a bipolar branching structure was developed and calibrated based on morphological and in vitro electrophysiological data in order to explore the roles of ion currents and intracellular calcium dynamics in the intrinsic electrical MNC properties. The model was used to determine the likely distributions of ion conductances in morphologically distinct parts of the MNCs: soma, primary dendrites and secondary dendrites. While reproducing the general electrophysiological features of MNCs, the model demonstrates that the differential spatial distributions of ion channels influence the functional expression of MNC properties, and reveals the potential importance of dendritic conductances in these properties.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium / pharmacology
  • Dendrites / physiology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Ion Channel Gating / physiology
  • Ion Channels / physiology*
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Membrane Potentials / radiation effects
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Neurons / radiation effects
  • Paraventricular Hypothalamic Nucleus / cytology*
  • Supraoptic Nucleus / cytology*


  • Ion Channels
  • Calcium