Membrane properties and spike generation in rat visual cortical cells during reversible cooling

Authors

  • Maxim Volgushev,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Neurophysiology, Faculty of Medicine, Ruhr-University Bochum, D-44780 Bochum, Germany
    2. Institute of Higher Nervous Activity and Neurophysiology Russian Academy of Sciences, 117865 Moscow, Russia
    • Corresponding author
      M. Volgushev: Ruhr-University Bochum, Department of Neurophysiology, MA 4/149, D-44780 Bochum, Germany. Email: maxim@neurop.ruhr-uni-bochum.de

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  • Trichur R. Vidyasagar,

    1. Division of Psychology, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
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  • Marina Chistiakova,

    1. Department of Neurophysiology, Faculty of Medicine, Ruhr-University Bochum, D-44780 Bochum, Germany
    2. Institute of Higher Nervous Activity and Neurophysiology Russian Academy of Sciences, 117865 Moscow, Russia
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  • Tagrid Yousef,

    1. Department of Neurophysiology, Faculty of Medicine, Ruhr-University Bochum, D-44780 Bochum, Germany
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  • Ulf T. Eysel

    1. Department of Neurophysiology, Faculty of Medicine, Ruhr-University Bochum, D-44780 Bochum, Germany
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Abstract

  • We studied the effects of reversible cooling between 35 and 7 °C on membrane properties and spike generation of cells in slices of rat visual cortex.

  • Cooling led to a depolarization of the neurones and an increase of the input resistance, thus bringing the cells closer to spiking threshold. Excitability, measured with intracellular current steps, increased with cooling.

  • Synaptic stimuli were most efficient in producing spikes at room temperature, but strong stimulation could evoke spikes even below 10 °C.

  • Spike width and total area increased with cooling, and spike amplitude was maximal between 12 and 20 °C. Repetitive firing was enhanced in some cells by cooling to 20–25 °C, but was always suppressed at lower temperatures.

  • With cooling, passive potassium conductance decreased and the voltage-gated potassium current had a higher activation threshold and lower amplitude. At the same time, neither passive sodium conductance nor the activation threshold of voltage-dependent sodium channels changed. Therefore changing the temperature modifies the ratio between potassium and sodium conductances, and thus alters basic membrane properties.

  • Data from two cells recorded in slices of cat visual cortex suggest a similar temperature dependence of the membrane properties of neocortical neurones to that described above in the rat.

  • These results provide a framework for comparison of the data recorded at different temperatures, but also show the limitations of extending the conclusions drawn from in vitro data obtained at room temperature to physiological temperatures. Further, when cooling is used as an inactivation tool in vivo, it should be taken into account that the mechanism of inactivation is a depolarization block. Only a region cooled below 10 °C is reliably silenced, but it is always surrounded by a domain of hyperexcitable cells.

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