Pflugers Archiv : European journal of physiology

Characterisation of rebound depolarisation in mice deep dorsal horn neurons in vitro.

PMID 25292284


Spinal dorsal horn neurons constitute the first relay for pain processing and participate in the processing of other sensory, motor and autonomic information. At the cellular level, intrinsic excitability is a factor contributing to network function. In turn, excitability is set by the array of ionic conductance expressed by neurons. Here, we set out to characterise rebound depolarisation following hyperpolarisation, a feature frequently described in dorsal horn neurons but never addressed in depth. To this end, an in vitro preparation of the spinal cord from mice pups was used combined with whole-cell recordings in current and voltage clamp modes. Results show the expression of H- and/or T-type currents in a significant proportion of dorsal horn neurons. The expression of these currents determines the presence of rebound behaviour at the end of hyperpolarising pulses. T-type calcium currents were associated to high-amplitude rebounds usually involving high-frequency action potential firing. H-currents were associated to low-amplitude rebounds less prone to elicit firing or firing at lower frequencies. For a large proportion of neurons expressing both currents, the H-current constitutes a mechanism to ensure a faster response after hyperpolarisations, adjusting the latency of the rebound firing. We conclude that rebound depolarisation and firing are intrinsic factors to many dorsal horn neurons that may constitute a mechanism to integrate somatosensory information in the spinal cord, allowing for a rapid switch from inhibited-to-excited states.