Modulation of endogenous firing patterns by osmolarity in rat hippocampal neurones

Rony Azouz, Gil Alroy, Yoel Yaari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


1. Intracellular recordings in adult rat hippocampal slices were used to investigate the modulation of endogenous neuronal firing patterns by moderate changes (±13%) in the extracellular osmotic pressure (Π0). The responses of CA1 pyramidal cells to graded depolarizing current pulses were used to differentiate between regular and burst-firing patterns and to characterize the stimulus requirements for evoking endogenous burst discharge. 2. Decreasing or increasing Π0 had no significant effects on resting membrane potential and input resistance, spike threshold and amplitude, and the amplitudes of the fast, medium and slow spike after-hyperpolarizations (AHPs). The apparent membrane time constant (τ(m)) increased in low Π0 and decreased in high Π0 . 3. Reducing Π0 converted non-bursting neurones (non-bursters) to bursting neurones (bursters) and decreased the stimulus requirements for evoking burst firing in native bursters. Increasing Π0 suppressed endogenous burst firing. 4. Lowering Π0, increased the size of the 'active' (i.e. re-depolarizing) component of the spike after-depolarization (ADP). Conversely increasing Π0, suppressed the active ADP component. 5. The sensitivity of spike ADPs and firing patterns of pyramidal cells to the changes in Π0, persisted also in Ca2+-free saline, indicating that the osmotic effects are not imparted by modulation of Ca2+ and/or Ca2+ -activated K+ currents. 6. Blocking most K+ currents with Ca2+-free, TEA-containing saline induced large and prolonged (up to 1 s), TTX-sensitive plateau potentials following the primary fast spikes. These potentials were augmented by low Π0, and abated by high Π0. 7. When injected with subthreshold depolarizing current pulses in Ca2+-free saline, pyramidal cells displayed a distinct TTX-sensitive inward rectification. This rectification was augmented by low Π0 and reduced by high Π0. 8. The various effects of low-Π0 and high-Π0 saline solutions were reversible upon washing with normosmotic saline. 9. We conclude that Π0 is a critical determinant of the endogenous firing patterns of CA1 pyramidal cells. The data suggest that the osmotic effects are most likely to be mediated by changes in the persistent Na+ current, which underlies the active spike ADP and the burst potential in CA1 pyramidal neurones. The possible contribution of these effects to changes in brain excitability in various abnormal osmotic states is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-187
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jul 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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