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Author Notes:

Address for reprint requests and other correspondence: S. Hochman, Whitehead Biomedical Research Building, Room 644, Emory University School of Medicine, 615 Michael St., Atlanta, GA 30322 (E-mail: shawn.hochman@emory.edu).

We thank M. Sorenson for readabf and K. Wang for the Cluster Validity Analysis Platform, Matlab programs used in this analysis.


Research Funding:

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Grant NS-045248

Heterogeneity of Membrane Properties in Sympathetic Preganglionic Neurons of Neonatal Mice: Evidence of Four Subpopulations in the Intermediolateral Nucleus


Journal Title:

Journal of Neurophysiology


Volume 103, Number 1


, Pages 490-498

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Spinal cord sympathetic preganglionic neurons (SPNs) integrate activity from descending and sensory systems to determine the final central output of the sympathetic nervous system. The intermediolateral column (IML) has the highest number and density of SPNs and, within this region, SPN somas are found in distinct clusters within thoracic and upper lumbar spinal segments. Whereas SPNs exhibit a rostrocaudal gradient of end-target projections, individual clusters contain SPNs with diverse functional roles. Here we explored diversity in the electrophysiological properties observed in Hb9-eGFP–identified SPNs in the IML of neonatal mice. Overall, mouse SPN intrinsic membrane properties were comparable with those seen in other species. A wide range of values was obtained for all measured properties (up to a 10-fold difference), suggesting that IML neurons are highly differentiated. Using linear regression we found strong correlations between many cellular properties, including input resistance, rheobase, time constant, action potential shape, and degree of spike accommodation. The best predictor of cell function was rheobase, which correlated well with firing frequency–injected current (f–I) slopes as well as other passive and active membrane properties. The range in rheobase suggests that IML neurons have a recruitment order with stronger synaptic drives required for maximal recruitment. Using cluster analysis, we identified at least four subpopulations of SPNs, including one with a long time constant, low rheobase, and high f–I gain. We thus propose that the IML contains populations of neurons that are differentiable by their membrane properties and hypothesize they represent diverse functional classes.

Copyright information:

© 2010 the American Physiological Society

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