THE dynamic response of nerve cells to synaptic activation and the spatial distribution of biochemical processes regulated by ion concentration are critically dependent on the cell-surface distribution of ion channels. In the hippocampus, intracellular calcium-ion concentration is thought to influence the biochemical events associated with kindling, excitotoxicity, and long-term potentiation. Computer models of hippocampal pyramidal cells also indicate that calcium-channel location influences dynamic characteristics such as bursting. Here, we have used in situ micro-fluorometric imaging in brain slices to directly measure the spatial distribution of calcium accumulation in guinea-pig CA1 pyramidal cells during trains of orthodromic synaptic stimulation. Calcium accumulation is substantial throughout the entire proximal section of the apical and basal dendrites. Most of this accumulation results from influx through non-NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) voltage-gated calcium channels, and in the apical dendrite it drops steeply as the dendrite enters stratum moleculare, the termination zone of perforant path afferents. These results demonstrate a marked segregation of calcium-channel activity and directly show a spatial distribution of calcium accumulation during orthodromic synaptic activation.
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