T-type calcium channels in synaptic plasticity

Channels (Austin). 2017 Mar 4;11(2):121-139. doi: 10.1080/19336950.2016.1238992. Epub 2016 Sep 21.


The role of T-type calcium currents is rarely considered in the extensive literature covering the mechanisms of long-term synaptic plasticity. This situation reflects the lack of suitable T-type channel antagonists that till recently has hampered investigations of the functional roles of these channels. However, with the development of new pharmacological and genetic tools, a clear involvement of T-type channels in synaptic plasticity is starting to emerge. Here, we review a number of studies showing that T-type channels participate to numerous homo- and hetero-synaptic plasticity mechanisms that involve different molecular partners and both pre- and post-synaptic modifications. The existence of T-channel dependent and independent plasticity at the same synapse strongly suggests a subcellular localization of these channels and their partners that allows specific interactions. Moreover, we illustrate the functional importance of T-channel dependent synaptic plasticity in neocortex and thalamus.

Keywords: Cav3.1; Cav3.2; Cav3.3; long-term depression; long-term potentiation; neuron; synapse; thalamus; visual system.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium Channels, T-Type / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Ion Channel Gating
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neuronal Plasticity*
  • Sleep


  • Calcium Channels, T-Type
  • Calcium