Primary afferent-evoked synaptic responses and slow potential generation in rat substantia gelatinosa neurons in vitro

J Neurophysiol. 1989 Jul;62(1):96-108. doi: 10.1152/jn.1989.62.1.96.


1. Primary afferent fiber-evoked synaptic responses and the mechanisms of spike and slow potential generation have been examined in adult rat substantia gelatinosa (SG) neurons in an in vitro transverse spinal cord slice preparation in which an attached dorsal root is retained. Intracellular recordings were made from SG neurons identified by morphological and electrophysiological criteria. Afferent fiber-evoked fast excitatory postsynaptic potentials (fast EPSPs) and slow EPSPs have been analyzed. 2. SG neurons had mean resting membrane potentials of -67.1 +/- 0.5 mV (mean +/- SE), mean input resistance of 257 +/- 17.7 (SE) M omega, and a mean time constant of 21.3 +/- 1.9 ms and exhibited spontaneous EPSPs. 3. Single low-intensity stimuli applied to the dorsal root using a suction electrode produced, in 70% of SG neurons, short-latency, presumed monosynaptic fast EPSPs which had a half decay time of 10-30 ms and an amplitude of 8-28 mV. The conduction velocity of afferent fibers evoking fast EPSPs was 2-7 m/s, corresponding to that of thinly myelinated A-delta-fibers. Dorsal root stimulation at higher intensities evoked, in 10% of SG neurons, long-latency and apparently monosynaptic EPSPs which had a time course and amplitude similar to that evoked by low-intensity stimulation. The conduction velocity of fibers evoking long-latency EPSPs was 0.4-2 m/s, suggesting that they constitute predominantly C-fibers. A-delta- and C-fiber-mediated fast EPSPs were detected in 20% of SG neurons examined. 4. Low-intensity stimuli produced slow EPSPs in 20% of SG neurons. Slow EPSPs were 3-15 mV in amplitude and of up to 2 min in duration. A-delta-fibers appeared to be responsible for the generation of slow EPSPs. Slow EPSPs were associated with an increase in membrane resistance and were decreased in amplitude with membrane hyperpolarization. 5. Action potentials in SG neurons had a mean amplitude of 76.3 +/- 1.1 mV and a mean duration of 1.0 +/- 0.07 ms. Na+ ions represent the main charge carrier during the rising phase of the action potential and Ca2+ ions contribute to the shoulder on the falling phase. 6. In 20% of SG neurons, subthreshold depolarizing pulses were followed by long-lasting slow-inactivating depolarizing potentials which were able to initiate spikes. The slow depolarizing potentials were blocked by TTX and enhanced by application of TEA and Ba2+, suggesting that Na+ and K+ are involved in this slow-inactivating potential.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Afferent Pathways / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Ganglia, Spinal / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Sodium / physiology
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*
  • Substantia Gelatinosa / cytology
  • Substantia Gelatinosa / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology*


  • Sodium