Control and role of plateau potential properties in the spinal cord

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In this review we will first give a historical account of how the discovery of persistent inward currents (PICs) and plateau potentials changed the understanding of the operation and function of the "final common path", i.e. the motoneurons themselves. A major function of voltage-dependent PICs is to serve as an adjustable amplifier of classical synaptic inputs. The complex control of this, and other intrinsic properties, certainly adjusts the performance of the motoneurons to the needs of the behavioral settings. It has emerged that supraspinal facilitation, mainly by monoaminergic projections, is a prerequisite for the normal function of the PIC channels. When these pathways are interrupted following a spinal lesion the "gain" of the transmission across the motoneurons is reduced and this is likely to be an important explanation for the spinal shock. However, after a few weeks the "plateau properties" of the motoneurons return - now without descending monoaminergic control. This plasticity after spinal lesion is likely to contribute to the hyperreflexia (spasticity) seen after spinal lesions. We then review the current knowledge on PICs in other spinal (inter-)neurons. The monoaminergic systems seem to play a pivotal role in activating the spinal network generating the rhythm and basic motor pattern of locomotion and scratch - the spinal "central pattern generators" (CPGs). We give a short historical background of this research with a special emphasis on the importance of the descending monoaminergic systems.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Pharmaceutical Design
Issue number24
Pages (from-to)4357-4370
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2013

    Research areas

  • Action Potentials, Animals, Biogenic Monoamines, Calcium Channels, L-Type, Humans, Locomotion, Motor Neurons, Neurotransmitter Agents, Patch-Clamp Techniques, Spinal Cord, Spinal Cord Injuries, Synaptic Transmission, Journal Article

ID: 176952282