To evaluate the role of low-voltage-activated (LVA) calcium channels in the lamprey spinal locomotor network, a previous computer simulation model has been extended to include LVA calcium channels. It is also of interest to explore the consequences of a LVA conductance for the electrical behavior of the single neuron. The LVA calcium channel was modeled with voltage-dependent activation and inactivation using the m3h form, following a Hodgkin-Huxley paradigm. Experimental data from lamprey neurons was used to provide parameter values of the single cell model. The presence of a LVA calcium conductance in the model could account for the occurrence of a rebound depolarization in the simulation model. The influence of holding potential on the occurrence of a rebound as well the latency at which it is elicited was investigated and compared with previous experiments. The probability of a rebound increased at a more depolarized holding potential and the latency was also reduced under these conditions. Furthermore, the effect of changing the holding potential and the reversal potential of the calcium dependent potassium conductance were tested to determine under which conditions several rebound spikes could be elicited after a single inhibitory pulse in the simulation model. A reduction of the slow afterhyperpolarization (sAHP) after the action potential reduced the tendency for a train of rebound spikes. The experimental effects of γ-aminobutyric acid-B (GABA(B)) receptor activation were simulated by reducing the maximal LVA calcium conductance. A reduced tendency for rebound firing and a slower rising phase with sinusoidal current stimulation was observed, in accordance with earlier experiments. The effect of reducing the slow after hyperpolarization and reducing the LVA calcium current was tested experimentally in the lamprey spinal cord, during N- methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-induced fictive locomotion. The reduction of burst frequency was more pronounced with GABA(B) agonists than with apamin (inhibitor of K(Ca) current) when using high NMDA concentration (high burst frequency). The burst frequency increased after the addition of a LVA calcium current to the simulated segmental network, due to a faster recovery during the inhibitory phase as the activity switches between the sides. This result is consistent with earlier experimental findings because GABA(N) receptor agonists reduce the locomotor frequency. These results taken together suggest that the LVA calcium channels contribute to a larger degree with respect to the burst frequency regulation than the sAHP mechanism at higher burst frequencies. The range in which a regular burst pattern can be simulated is extended in the lower range by the addition of LVA calcium channels, which leads to more stable activity at low locomotor frequencies. We conclude that the present model can account for rebound firing and trains of rebound spikes in lamprey neurons. The effects of GABA(B) receptor activation on the network level is consistent with a reduction of the calcium current through LVA calcium channels even though GABA(B) receptor activation will affect the sAHP indirectly and also presynaptic inhibition.
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