Development of two types of calcium channels in cultured mammalian hippocampal neurons

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Science  06 Feb 1987:
Vol. 235, Issue 4789, pp. 680-682
DOI: 10.1126/science.2433765


Calcium influx through voltage-gated membrane channels plays a crucial role in a variety of neuronal processes, including long-term potentiation and epileptogenesis in the mammalian cortex. Recent studies indicate that calcium channels in some cell types are heterogeneous. This heterogeneity has now been shown for calcium channels in mammalian cortical neurons. When dissociated embryonic hippocampal neurons from rat were grown in culture they first had only low voltage-activated, fully inactivating somatic calcium channels. These channels were metabolically stable and conducted calcium better than barium. Appearing later in conjunction with neurite outgrowth and eventually predominating in the dendrites, were high voltage-activated, slowly inactivating calcium channels. These were metabolically labile and more selective to barium than to calcium. Both types of calcium currents were reduced by classical calcium channel antagonists, but the low voltage-activated channels were more strongly blocked by the anticonvulsant drug phenytoin. These findings demonstrate the development and coexistence of two distinct types of calcium channels in mammalian cortical neurons.