The Study of Passive Membrane Properties and Morphology Reveals Neuronal Differences Along the Sagittal Axis of the Ventral Periaqueductal Grey Matter


J. Ribas, as above


The membrane properties of the neurons located in the ventral part of the periaqueductal grey (PAG) of the guinea-pig were studied using an in vitro slice preparation. Cells had low values of resting membrane potential (−53.3 ± 1.3 mV, mean ± standard error), high input resistance (195.5 ± 16.2 MΩ) and moderate values of membrane time constant (12.6 ± 0.7 ms). The last two parameters changed as recordings were made along the sagittal axis, higher values corresponding to the more rostral cells. Three main neuronal types—fusiform, triangular and stellate—were found in the ventral PAG using intracellular injection of Lucifer yellow. A study of the cell number and cell density was carried out in coronal and sagittal sections of the ventral PAG. This analysis showed a clear gradient of size in this region arising from the gradual disappearance of large (17 to 40 μm) neurons in the caudorostral direction. The neuronal density also increased in this direction. Therefore, some electrotonic and morphological parameters differ along the sagittal axis. These findings suggest a larger neuronal heterogeneity of the caudal part of the PAG, and might contribute to a functional segregation of this region.