The many faces of T-type calcium channels

Pflugers Arch. 2014 Mar;466(3):415-23. doi: 10.1007/s00424-013-1353-6. Epub 2013 Sep 17.


Since the discovery of low-voltage-activated T-type calcium channels in sensory neurons and the initial characterization of their physiological function mainly in inferior olive and thalamic neurons, studies on neuronal T-type currents have predominantly focused on the generation of low-threshold spike (and associated action potential burst firing) which is strictly conditioned by a preceding hyperpolarization. This T-type current mediated activity has become an archetype of the function of these channels, constraining our view of the potential physiological and pathological roles that they may play in controlling the excitability of single cells and neural networks. However, greatly helped by the recent availability of the first potent and selective antagonists for this class of calcium channels, novel T-type current functions are rapidly being uncovered, including their surprising involvement in neuronal excitability at depolarized membrane potentials and their complex control of dendritic integration and neurotransmitter release. These and other data summarized in this short review clearly indicate a much wider physiological involvement of T-type channels in neuronal activity than previously expected.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials*
  • Animals
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / pharmacology
  • Calcium Channels, T-Type / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Synaptic Potentials


  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Calcium Channels, T-Type