The Cav3.2/alpha1H T-type Ca2+ current is a molecular determinant of excitatory effects of GABA in adult sensory neurons

Mol Cell Neurosci. 2007 Oct;36(2):293-303. doi: 10.1016/j.mcn.2007.07.009. Epub 2007 Jul 24.


In addition to its inhibitory action, reports have shown that, in sensory neurons, GABA can be responsible for excitatory effects leading to painful behavior. The cellular mechanisms for these excitatory effects remain largely unknown. Although the high intracellular chloride concentration allows GABA(A) receptor activation to depolarize all adult sensory neurons, we show that GABA, acting through GABA(A) receptors, can generate, in vitro, action potential and intracellular Ca(2+) increase only in a subset of neurons expressing a prominent T-type Ca(2+) current. When recorded from Cav3.2(-/-) mice, T-type Ca(2+) current was totally abolished in this morphologically identified subset of neurons and GABA(A) receptors activation did not induce electrical activity nor intracellular Ca(2+) increase. In addition to gene inhibition, pharmacological analysis of Ca(2+) channel subunits shows the amplifying role of T-current in GABA(A) current-induced membrane depolarization and the involvement of both T-current and high voltage activated Ca(2+) current in GABA(A)-induced intracellular Ca(2+) increase. Altogether, these data establish that the Cav3.2/alpha1H, T-current is responsible for GABA-induced cell excitability and intracellular Ca(2+) increase. Our results reveal a positive cross-talk between T-channel and GABA(A) receptor in adult sensory neurons and indicate that Cav3.2/alpha1H, T-type Ca(2+) channel may be the molecular determinant for excitatory effects of GABA in peripheral somatosensory system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Baclofen / pharmacology
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / pharmacology
  • Calcium Channels, T-Type / deficiency
  • Calcium Channels, T-Type / genetics
  • Calcium Channels, T-Type / physiology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chlorides / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Drug Interactions
  • Electric Stimulation / methods
  • Female
  • GABA Agonists / pharmacology
  • Ganglia, Spinal / cytology
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Membrane Potentials / radiation effects
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Muscimol / pharmacology
  • Neurons, Afferent / drug effects*
  • Nickel / pharmacology
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques / methods
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / pharmacology*


  • Cacna1h protein, mouse
  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Calcium Channels, T-Type
  • Chlorides
  • GABA Agonists
  • Muscimol
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • nickel chloride
  • Nickel
  • Baclofen
  • Calcium