Journal of Neurophysiology

Calcium and potassium changes in extracellular microenvironment of cat cerebellar cortex

C. Nicholson, G. ten Bruggencate, H. Stockle, R. Steinberg


1. Local stimulus-evoked changes in concentration of extracellular calcium ions, [Ca2+]0, and potassium ions, [K+[0, were measured in the cerebellar cortex of the cat using paired ion-selected micropipettes. 2. Repetitive stimulation of 30 s duration decreased [Ca2+]0 from a base line of 1.2 mM to as low as 0.8 mM and increased [K+]0 from 3 mM to as much as 8 mM. The magnitude of the changes was directly related to stimulus frequency. Laminar analysis showed that the greatest ion changes occurred at the level of maximum parallel fiber-Purkinje cell dendrite stimulation, but that the [Ca2+]0 changes were more localized than the [K+]0 changes. 3. Combining real-time current-source density measurement with [K+]0 determination and local manganese application, showed that the Mn blocked parallel fiber-Purkinje cell synaptic transmission, but that much of the [K+]0 changes persisted. Thus, a large part of the [K+]0 flux most probably originated in the parallel fibers. In contrast, [Ca2+]0 changes were abolished by the Mn, indicating that the decrease in this ion was probably associated with synaptic transmission or dendritic events. 4. In a few cases, spreading depression occurred in the cat cerebellar cortex. This could be accompanied by decreases in [Ca2+]0 to as low as 0.12 mM and increases in [K+]0 in excess of 48 mM. 5. These results show that significant changes in [Ca2+]0 and [K+]0 occur during cerebellar stimulation and indicate possible origins of the ion fluxes in terms of neuronal elements. This work also shows that the cerebellar cortex of the cat can support spreading depression. The present results, together with those of earlier studies on [Ca2+]0 and [K+]0 changes in the presence of aminopyridine in the cat cerebellum, suggest that synaptic or dendritic electroresponsive properties may play a role in the observed [Ca2+]0 and [K+]0 changes.