Journal of neurophysiology

Distinct electrophysiological properties in subtypes of nonspiking olfactory local interneurons correlate with their cell type-specific Ca2+ current profiles.

PMID 19759323


A diverse population of local interneurons (LNs) helps to process, structure, and spatially represent olfactory information in the insect antennal lobe. In Periplaneta americana, we identified two subtypes of nonspiking local interneurons (type II LNs) by their distinct morphological and intrinsic electrophysiological properties. As an important step toward a better understanding of the cellular mechanisms that mediate odor information processing, we present a detailed analysis of their distinct voltage-activated Ca(2+) currents, which clearly correlated with their distinct intrinsic electrophysiological properties. Both type II LNs did not posses voltage-activated Na(+) currents and apparently innervated all glomeruli including the macroglomerulus. Type IIa LNs had significant longer and thicker low-order neurites and innervated each glomerulus entirely and homogeneously, whereas type IIb LNs innervated only parts of each glomerulus. All type II LNs were broadly tuned and responded to odorants of many chemical classes with graded changes in the membrane potential. Type IIa LNs responded with odor-specific elaborate patterns of excitation that could also include "spikelets" riding on the depolarizations and periods of inhibition. In contrast, type IIb LNs responded mostly with sustained, relatively smooth depolarizations. Consistent with the strong active membrane properties of type IIa LNs versus type IIb LNs, the voltage-activated Ca(2+) current of type IIa LNs activated at more hyperpolarized membrane potentials and had a larger transient component.