Impact of the localization of dendritic calcium persistent inward current on the input-output properties of spinal motoneuron pool: a computational study

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2017 Nov 1;123(5):1166-1187. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00034.2017. Epub 2017 Jul 6.


The goal of this study is to investigate how the dendritic Ca-PIC location influences nonlinear input-output properties and depends on the type of motoneurons across the motoneuron pool. A model motoneuron pool consisting of 10 motoneurons was constructed using a recently developed two-compartment modeling approach that reflected key cell type-associated properties experimentally identified. The dendritic excitability and firing output depended systematically on both the PIC location and the motoneuron type. The PIC onset and offset in the current-voltage (I-V) relationship tended to occur at more hyperpolarized voltages as the path length to the PIC channels from the soma increased and as the cell type shifted from high- to low-threshold motoneurons. At the same time, the firing acceleration and frequency hysteresis in the frequency-current (F-I) relationship became faster and larger, respectively. However, the PIC onset-offset hysteresis increased as the path length and the recruitment threshold increased. Furthermore, the gain of frequency-current function before full PIC activation was larger for PIC channels located over distal dendritic regions in low- compared with high-threshold motoneurons. When compared with previously published experimental observations, the modeling concurred when Ca-PIC channels were placed closer to the soma in high- than low-threshold motoneurons in the model motoneuron pool. All of these results suggest that the negative relationship of Ca-PIC location and cell recruitment threshold may underlie the systematic variation in I-V and F-I transformation across the motoneuron pool.NEW & NOTEWORTHY How does the dendritic location of calcium persistent inward current (Ca-PIC) influence dendritic excitability and firing behavior across the spinal motoneuron pool? This issue was investigated developing a model motoneuron pool that reflected key motoneuron type-specific properties experimentally identified. The simulation results point out the negative relationship between the distance of Ca-PIC source from the soma and cell recruitment threshold as a basis underlying the systematic variation in input-output properties of motoneurons over the motoneuron pool.

Keywords: computational modeling; dendritic calcium currents; motoneuron pool; nonlinear firing behavior; spinal motoneurons.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Calcium / physiology*
  • Dendrites / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Spinal Cord / cytology
  • Spinal Cord / physiology


  • Calcium