Electrophysiological properties of neonatal rat motoneurones studied in vitro

J Physiol. 1986 Jan;370:651-78. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1986.sp015956.


The electroresponsive properties of neonatal lumbar spinal motoneurones were studied using isolated, hemisected spinal cords from neonatal rats aged 3-12 days. The extracellular and intracellular responses to electrical stimulation of the ventral and dorsal root were studied as well as the intracellular response to current injection. Field potentials recorded in the lateral motor area following electrical stimulation of lumbar ventral roots had a triphasic positive-negative-positive wave form. The negative component did not return to the base line smoothly but exhibited a 'shoulder' where the negativity increased in duration. Following electrical stimulation of the dorsal root, presynaptic field potentials were recorded upon activation of the afferent axons as well as following synaptic activation of interneurones and motoneurones. The input resistances of neonatal motoneurones determined from the slope of current-voltage plots were high compared with the adult. The resistance decreased with age with a mean of 18.1 M omega for animals 3-5 days old, 8.8 M omega for animals 6-8 days old and 5.4 M omega for animals 9-11 days old. Values for the membrane time constant were similar to those in the adult with a mean of 4.5 ms. Action potentials elicited by ventral or dorsal root stimulation or by intracellular current injection were marked by a pronounced after-depolarization (a.d.p.) and an after-hyperpolarization (a.h.p.). The amplitude of the a.h.p. varied with that of the a.d.p. The amplitude of excitatory post-synaptic potentials (e.p.s.p.s) elicited by electrical stimulation of the dorsal root was affected by intracellular current injection. Two types of e.p.s.p.s were distinguished: those with a biphasic reversal (early phase first) and those in which the early phase was unaffected by inward current injection while the later phase was reversed. Unlike in the adult, the reversals could be achieved with low current levels and the amplitude of both types of e.p.s.p. was increased by inward current injection. Inhibitory post-synaptic potentials (i.p.s.p.s) were elicited by dorsal or ventral root stimulation. The amplitude of these i.p.s.p.s was diminished and reversed in sign with inward current injection and their amplitude was enhanced with outward current injection. Activation of neonatal motoneurones with long current pulses revealed that there is one steady-state firing range.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology
  • Spinal Cord / cytology
  • Spinal Cord / physiology
  • Spinal Nerve Roots / physiology
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Time Factors