Electrophysiological properties of in vitro Purkinje cell somata in mammalian cerebellar slices

J Physiol. 1980 Aug;305:171-95. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1980.sp013357.


1. The electrical activity of Purkinje cells was studied in guinea-pig cerebellar slices in vitro. Intracellular recordings from Purkinje cell somata were obtained under direct vision, and antidromic, synaptic and direct electroresponsiveness was demonstrated. Synaptic potentials produced by the activation of the climbing fibre afferent could be reversed by direct membrane depolarization. 2. Input resistance of impaled neurones ranged from 10 to 19 M omega and demonstrated non-linearities in both hyperpolarizing and depolarizing directions. 3. Direct activation of a Purkinje cell indicated that repetitive firing of fast somatic spikes (s.s.) occurs, after a threshold, with a minimum spike frequency of about 30 spikes/sec, resembling the '2-class' response of crab nerve (Hodgkin, 1948). 4. As the amplitude of the stimulus was increased, a second form of electroresponsiveness characterized by depolarizing spike bursts (d.s.b.) was observed and was often accomppanied by momentary inactivation of the s.s. potentials. Upon application of tetrodotoxin (TTX) or removal of Na+ ions from the superfusion fluid, the s.s. potentials were abolished while the burst responses remained intact. However, Ca conductance blockers such as Co, Cd, Mn and D600, or the replacement of Ca by Mg, completely abolish d.s.b.s. 5. If Ca conductance was blocked, or Ca removed from the superfusion fluid without blockage of Na conductance, two types of Na-dependent electroresponsiveness were seen: (a) the s.s. potentials and (b) slow rising all-or-none responses which reached plateau at approximately -15 mV and could last for several seconds. These all-or-none Na-dependent plateau depolarizations outlasted the stimulus and were accompanied by a large increase in membrane conductance. Within certain limits the rate of rise and amplitude of the plateau were independent of stimulus strength. The latency, however, was shortened as stimulus amplitude was increased. These potentials were blocked by TTX or by Na-free solutions. 6. Substitution of extracellular Ca by Ba or intracellular injection of tetraethylammonium generated prolonged action potentials lasting for several seconds and showing a plateau more ositive than those obtained in norrmal circumstances by either non-inactivating Na or Ca currents. 7. Spontaneous firing of the Purkinje cell was characterized by burst-like activity consisting of both s.s. and d.s.b. responses. Addition of TTX to the bath left the basic spontaneous activity and its frequency unaltered, indicating tha Ca spiking and Ca-dependent K conductance changes are the main events underlying this oscillatory behaviour. 8...

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Barium / pharmacology
  • Calcium / physiology
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Guinea Pigs
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Purkinje Cells / physiology*
  • Sodium / physiology
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Tetraethylammonium Compounds / pharmacology


  • Tetraethylammonium Compounds
  • Barium
  • Sodium
  • Calcium