Role for T-type Ca2+ channels in sleep waves

Pflugers Arch. 2014 Apr;466(4):735-45. doi: 10.1007/s00424-014-1477-3. Epub 2014 Mar 1.


Since their discovery more than 30 years ago, low-threshold T-type Ca(2+) channels (T channels) have been suggested to play a key role in many EEG waves of non-REM sleep, which has remained exclusively linked to the ability of these channels to generate low-threshold Ca(2+) potentials and associated high-frequency bursts of action potentials. Our present understanding of the biophysics and physiology of T channels, however, highlights a much more diverse and complex picture of the pivotal contributions that they make to different sleep rhythms. In particular, recent experimental evidence has conclusively demonstrated the essential contribution of thalamic T channels to the expression of slow waves of natural sleep and the key role played by Ca(2+) entry through these channels in the activation or modulation of other voltage-dependent channels that are important for the generation of both slow waves and sleep spindles. However, the precise contribution to sleep rhythms of T channels in cortical neurons and other sleep-controlling neuronal networks remains unknown, and a full understanding of the cellular and network mechanisms of sleep delta waves is still lacking.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Calcium Channels, T-Type / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Humans
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Sleep Stages / physiology*


  • Calcium Channels, T-Type