Picrotoxin convulsions involve synaptic and nonsynaptic mechanisms on cultured mouse spinal neurons

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Science  30 May 1980:
Vol. 208, Issue 4447, pp. 1054-1056
DOI: 10.1126/science.7375918


The cellular mechanisms underlying picrotoxin-induced convulsive activity were studied by using mouse spinal neurons growing in tissue culture. Picrotoxin-induced convulsive activity in most but not all of the cells studied. The activity could be inverted by polarizing to positive potentials and eliminated either by decreasing the ratio of calcium to magnesium or by applying tetrodotoxin. When applied locally to individual cells, picrotoxin lowered spike threshold and induced spontaneous firing in some but not all cells tested. The results suggest that picrotoxin-induced convulsive activity involves rapidly summating synaptic activity which may be evoked by high-frequency repetitive firing.