The following computer model describes the electrophysiological properties of dopamine (DA) neurons of the ventrolateral periaquaductal gray and dorsal raphe nucleus (vlPAG/DRN). the model and how to replicate Figures 7-10 of the manuscript (Dougalis et al., 2017 J Comput Neurosci). SUMMARY: We have conducted a voltage-clamp study to provide a kinetic description of major sodium, potassium and calcium ionic currents operant on adult DA vlPAG/DRN neurons in brain slices obtained from pitx3-GFP mice. Based on experimentally derived voltage-clamp data, we then constructed a simplified, conductance-based, Hodgkin and Huxley-type, computer model and validated its behaviour against in vitro neurophysiological data. Using simulations in the computational DA model, we explored the contribution of individual ionic currents in vlPAG/DRN DA neuron’s spontaneous firing, pacemaker frequency and threshold for spike frequency adaptation in silico. The data presented here extend our previous physiological characterization (Dougalis et al. 2012) and argue that DA neurons of the vlPAG/DRN express autorhythmicity in the absence of synaptic transmission via the interplay of potassium and sodium currents without the absolute need of calcium currents. The properties of the ionic currents recorded here (IH current, IA current), the lack of small oscillating potentials in the presence of sodium channel blockers taken together with the mechanisms for autorhythmicity (reliance more on sodium rather than calcium currents) also support further the idea that vlPAG/DRN DA neurons are operationally similar to VTA, rather than SNc, DA neurons. In particular, the properties of a slowly inactivating IA current in conjunction with the small and slowly activating IH current described herein pinpoint that vlPAG/DRN DA neurons are most similar to prefrontal cortex or medial shell of nucleus accumbens projecting DA neurons (see Lammel et al. 2008, 2011).
Model Type: Neuron or other electrically excitable cell
Region(s) or Organism(s): Brainstem
Cell Type(s): Dopamine neuron of vlPAG/DRN
Simulation Environment: NEURON
Implementer(s): Dougalis, Antonios [antoniosdougalis at hotmail.com]
Dougalis AG, Matthews GAC, Liss B, Ungless MA. (2017). Ionic currents influencing spontaneous firing and pacemaker frequency in dopamine neurons of the ventrolateral periaqueductal gray and dorsal raphe nucleus (vlPAG/DRN): A voltage-clamp and computational modelling study. Journal of computational neuroscience. 42 [PubMed]