The function of local networks in the CNS depends upon both the connectivity between neurons and their intrinsic properties. An intrinsic property of spinal motoneurons is the presence of persistent inward currents (PICs), which are mediated by non-inactivating calcium (mainly Ca(V)1.3) and/or sodium channels and serve to amplify neuronal input signals. It is of fundamental importance for the prediction of network function to determine the distribution of neurons possessing the ion channels that produce PICs. Although the distribution pattern of Ca(V)1.3 immunoreactivity (Ca(V)1.3-IR) has been studied in some specific central nervous regions in some species, so far no systematic investigations have been performed in both the rat spinal cord and brain stem. In the present study this issue was investigated by immunohistochemistry. The results indicated that the Ca(V)1.3-IR neurons were widely distributed across different parts of the spinal cord and the brain stem although with variable labeling intensities. In the spinal gray matter large neurons in the ventral horn (presumably motoneurons) tended to display higher levels of immunoreactivity than smaller neurons in the dorsal horn. In the white matter, a subset of glial cells labeled by an oligodendrocyte marker was also Ca(V)1.3-positive. In the brain stem, neurons in the motor nuclei appeared to have higher levels of immunoreactivity than those in the sensory nuclei. Moreover, a number of nuclei containing monoaminergic cells, for example the locus coeruleus, were also strongly immunoreactive. Ca(V)1.3-IR was consistently detected in the neuronal perikarya regardless of the neuronal type. However, in the large neurons in the spinal ventral horn and the cranial motor nuclei the Ca(V)1.3-IR was clearly detectable in first and second order dendrites. These results indicate that in the rat spinal cord and brain stem Ca(V)1.3 is probably a common calcium channel used by many kinds of neurons to facilitate the neuronal information processing via certain intracellular mechanisms, for instance, PICs.
|Status||Udgivet - 2009|