Voltage-dependent calcium channels in rat midbrain dopamine neurons: modulation by dopamine and GABAB receptors

J Neurophysiol. 1995 Sep;74(3):1137-48. doi: 10.1152/jn.1995.74.3.1137.


1. Voltage-dependent calcium channels were studied with whole cell voltage-clamp recordings from neurons enzymatically dispersed from the ventral mesencephalon of rat brains (postnatal days 3-10) and identified as dopamine neurons by 5,7-dihydroxytryptamine autofluorescence. 2. Dopamine neurons had large high-threshold calcium currents activated by depolarizations positive to -50 mV. Different components of calcium channel current were not readily distinguishable by voltage dependence or kinetics, but pharmacological experiments showed the existence of different channel types. The overall current had significant components blocked by nimodipine (28%), by omega-conotoxin GVIA (22%), and by omega-agatoxin-IVA (omega-Aga-IVA) (37%), and there was a significant amount of current (16%) remaining in saturating concentrations of all three blockers. 3. High-threshold calcium current was reversibly reduced by the gamma-aminobutyric acid-B (GABAB) receptor agonist baclofen and by dopamine and the D2 receptor agonist quinpirole. Inhibition by GABAB or dopamine agonists developed and reversed within seconds. 4. Quinpirole reduced both omega-conotoxin-sensitive and omega-Aga-IVA-sensitive components of calcium current. 5. With physiological ionic conditions, inward calcium currents were outweighed by outward currents, in part through calcium-activated potassium channels activated by omega-conotoxin-sensitive and omega-Aga-IVA-sensitive calcium entry.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Baclofen / pharmacology
  • Calcium Channels / physiology*
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Mesencephalon / physiology*
  • Nimodipine / pharmacology
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Dopamine / drug effects*
  • Receptors, GABA-B / drug effects*
  • Tetrodotoxin / pharmacology


  • Calcium Channels
  • Receptors, Dopamine
  • Receptors, GABA-B
  • Tetrodotoxin
  • Nimodipine
  • Baclofen
  • Dopamine