Research Summary: The h-Current in the Substantia Nigra pars Compacta Neurons: A Re-examination


The properties of the hyperpolarization-activated cation current (Ih) were investigated in rat substantia nigra – pars compacta (SNc) principal neurons using patch-clamp recordings in thin slices. A reliable identification of single dopaminergic neurons was made possible by the use of a transgenic line of mice expressing eGFP under the tyrosine hydroxylase promoter. The effects of temperature and different protocols on the Ih kinetics showed that, at 37°C and minimizing the disturbance of the intracellular milieu with perforated patch, this current actually activates at potentials more positive than what is generally indicated, with a half-activation potential of −77.05 mV and with a significant level of opening already at rest, thereby substantially contributing to the control of membrane potential, and ultimately playing a relevant function in the regulation of the cell excitability. The implications of the known influence of intracellular cAMP levels on Ih amplitude and kinetics were examined. The direct application of neurotransmitters (DA, 5-HT and noradrenaline) physiologically released onto SNc neurons and known to act on metabotropic receptors coupled to the cAMP pathway modify the Ih amplitude. Here, we show that direct activation of dopaminergic and of 5-HT receptors results in Ih inhibition of SNc DA cells, whereas noradrenaline has the opposite effect. Together, these data suggest that the modulation of Ih by endogenously released neurotransmitters acting on metabotropic receptors –mainly but not exclusively linked to the cAMP pathway- could contribute significantly to the control of SNc neuron excitability.


Publisher: Public Library of Science

Date Published: 21-December-2012

Author(s): Gambardella C., Pignatelli A., Belluzzi O.


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