Low-threshold calcium currents in central nervous system neurons

Annu Rev Physiol. 1996:58:329-48. doi: 10.1146/annurev.ph.58.030196.001553.


The low-threshold calcium current, or T current, has recently been demonstrated with voltage-clamp recordings in a variety of central nervous system (CNS) neurons. It is especially prominent in the soma and dendrites of neurons with robust calcium-dependent burst firing behaviors such as thalamic relay neurons and cerebellar Purkinje cells. Single-channel and macroscopic current behavior have been carefully investigated and kinetic schemes devised to completely describe the activation and inactivation processes. The kinetic properties of T current lead to activation of low-threshold spikes subsequent to transient membrane hyperpolarizations. Putative functional roles for T current include generation of low-threshold spikes that lead to burst firing, promotion of intrinsic oscillatory behavior, boosting of calcium entry, and synaptic potentiation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium Channel Agonists / pharmacology
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / pharmacology
  • Calcium Channels / drug effects
  • Calcium Channels / metabolism*
  • Central Nervous System / cytology
  • Central Nervous System / drug effects
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism*


  • Calcium Channel Agonists
  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Calcium Channels