Electrophysiological properties of neurones in the region of the paraventricular nucleus in slices of rat hypothalamus

J Physiol. 1991 Mar;434:271-93. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1991.sp018469.


1. Neurones in the region of the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of the rat were studied with intracellular recording in the coronal slice preparation. Three types of hypothalamic neurones were distinguished according to their membrane properties and anatomical positions. Lucifer Yellow or ethidium bromide was injected intracellularly to determine the morphology of some recorded cells. 2. The most distinctive electrophysiological characteristic was the low-threshold depolarizing potentials which were totally absent in type I neurones, present but variable in type II neurones and very conspicuous in type III neurones. Type II neurones generally showed relatively small low-threshold depolarizations (26.5 +/- 2.2 mV) which generated at most one to two action potentials. Type III neurones, on the other hand, generated large low-threshold potentials (40.3 +/- 2.8 mV) which gave rise to bursts of three to six fast action potentials. Deinactivation of the low-threshold conductance in both type II and type III neurones was voltage- and time-dependent. Low-threshold potentials persisted in TTX (1-3 microM) but were blocked by solutions containing low Ca2+ (0.2 mM) and Cd2+ (0.5 mM), suggesting they were Ca(2+)-dependent. 3. Type I neurones had a significantly shorter membrane time constant (14.5 +/- 1.7 ms) than those of type II (21.6 +/- 1.7 ms) and type III neurones (33.8 +/- 4.4 ms). Input resistance and resting membrane potential did not differ significantly among the cell groups. 4. Current-voltage (I-V) relations were significantly different among the three cell types. Type I neurones had linear I-V relations to -120 mV, while type III neurones all showed marked anomalous rectification. I-V relations among type II neurones were more heterogeneous, although most (75%) had linear I-V curves to about -90 to -100 mV, inward rectification appearing at more negative potentials. 5. Type I neurones generated fast action potentials of relatively large amplitude (64.2 +/- 1.1 mV, threshold to peak) and long duration (1.1 +/- 0.1 ms, measured at half-amplitude); the longer duration was due to a shoulder on the falling phase of the spike. Type II neurones had large spikes (66.5 +/- 1.6 mV) of shorter duration (0.9 +/- 0.1 ms) with no shoulder. Type III neurones had relatively small spikes (56.1 +/- 2.2 mV) of short duration (0.8 +/- 0.1 ms) with no shoulder. 6. The three cell populations showed different patterns of repetitive firing in response to depolarizing current pulses. Type I neurones often generated spike trains with a delayed onset and little spike-frequency adaptation.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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
  • Animals
  • Calcium / physiology
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electrophysiology
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Neurons / ultrastructure
  • Paraventricular Hypothalamic Nucleus / physiology*
  • Paraventricular Hypothalamic Nucleus / ultrastructure
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Sodium / physiology


  • Sodium
  • Calcium