Prolonged hyperpolarizing potentials precede spindle oscillations in the thalamic reticular nucleus.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, Volume 101, Issue 26, p.9816-21 (2004)


Action Potentials, Aging, Anesthesia, Animals, Cats, Electric Conductivity, Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials, Ion Transport, Neurons, Potassium, Sleep, Sodium, Thalamic Nuclei


<p>The thalamic reticular (RE) nucleus is a key structure in the generation of spindles, a hallmark bioelectrical oscillation during early stages of sleep. Intracellular recordings of RE neurons in vivo revealed the presence of prolonged hyperpolarizing potentials preceding spindles in a subgroup (30%) of neurons. These hyperpolarizations (6-10 mV) lasted for 200-300 ms and were present just before the onset of spontaneously occurring spindle waves. Corticothalamic volleys also were effective in generating such hyperpolarizations followed by spindles in RE neurons. A drop of up to 40% in the apparent input resistance (R(in)) was associated with these hyperpolarizing potentials, suggesting an active process rather than disfacilitation. Accordingly, the reversal potential was approximately -100 mV for both spontaneous and cortically elicited hyperpolarizations, consistent with the activation of slow K(+) conductances. QX-314 in the recording pipettes decreased both the amplitude and incidence of prolonged hyperpolarizations, suggesting the participation of G protein-dependent K(+) currents in the generation of hyperpolarizations. Simultaneous extracellular and intracellular recordings in the RE nucleus demonstrated that some RE neurons discharged during the hyperpolarizations and, thus, may be implicated in their generation. The prolonged hyperpolarizations preceding spindles may play a role in the transition from tonic to bursting firing of RE neurons within a range of membrane potential (-60 to -65 mV) at which they set favorable conditions for the generation of low-threshold spike bursts that initiate spindle sequences. These data are further arguments for the generation of spindles within the thalamic RE nucleus.</p>

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