Characteristics and Organization of Discharge Properties in Rat Hindlimb Motoneurons

J Neurophysiol. 2010 Sep;104(3):1549-65. doi: 10.1152/jn.00379.2010. Epub 2010 Jun 30.

Abstract

The discharge properties of hindlimb motoneurons in ketamine-xylazine anesthetized rats were measured to assess contributions of persistent intrinsic currents to these characteristics and to determine their distribution in motoneuron pools. Most motoneurons (30/37) responded to ramp current injections with adapting patterns of discharge and the frequency-current (f-I) relations of nearly all motoneurons included a steep subprimary range of discharge. Despite the prevalence of adapting f-I relations, responses included indications that persistent inward currents (PICs) were activated, including increased membrane noise and prepotentials before discharge, as well as counterclockwise hysteresis and secondary ranges in f-I relations. Examination of spike thresholds and afterhyperpolarization (AHP) trajectories during repetitive discharge revealed systematic changes in threshold and trajectory within the subprimary, primary, and secondary f-I ranges. These changes in the primary and secondary ranges were qualitatively similar to those described previously for cat motoneurons. Within the subprimary range, AHP trajectories often included shallow approaches to threshold following recruitment and slope of the AHP ramp consistently increased until the subprimary range was reached. We suggest that PICs activated near recruitment contributed to these slope changes and formation of the subprimary range. Discharge characteristics were strongly correlated with motoneuron size, using input conductance as an indicator of size. Discharge adaptation, recruitment current, and frequency increased with input conductance, whereas both subprimary and primary f-I gains decreased. These results are discussed with respect to potential mechanisms and their functional implications.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Hindlimb / physiology*
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Recruitment, Neurophysiological / physiology