Hippocampal pyramidal cells: significance of dendritic ionic conductances for neuronal function and epileptogenesis. Academic Article uri icon


  • 1. Starting with published data derived mainly from hippocampal slice preparations, we have used computer-modeling techniques to study hippocampal pyramidal cells (HPCs). 2. The dendrites of the HPC apparently have a short electrotonic length. Calcium spikes are apparently generated by a voltage-dependent mechanism whose kinetics are slow in comparison with those generating sodium spikes of the soma. Inward calcium currents are assumed to trigger a long-lasting potassium conductance. This slow calcium-potassium system, which in our model is located predominantly on the dendrites, provides a heuristic model to describe the mechanism for a) the after-depolarization following an HPC soma (sodium) spike, b) the long afterhyperpolarization following repetitive firing, c) bursts of spikes that sometimes occur after orthodromic or antidromic stimulation, and d) the buildup of the "depolarizing shift" during the strong synaptic input presumed to occur during seizures. 3. Fast prepotentials or d-spikes are shown to arise most probably from dendritic "hot spots" of sodium-regenerative membrane. The limited amplitude and short duration of these prepotentials imply that the hot spots are located on small dendrites. 4. Dendritic electroresponsiveness, first postulated for the HPC by Spencer and Kandel (52), is analyzed quantitatively here and is shown to provide rich integrative possibilities for this cell. Our model suggests that, for these nerve cells, alterations in specific membrane properties, particularly calcium electroresponsiveness, can lead to bursting behavior that resembles epileptogenic neuronal responses.

publication date

  • March 1979