Sodium action potentials in the dendrites of cerebellar Purkinje cells

Wade G. Regehr, Arthur Konnerth, Clay M. Armstrong

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38 Scopus citations


We report here that in cerebellar Purkinje cells from which the axon has been removed, positive voltage steps applied to the voltage-clamped soma produce spikes of active current. The spikes are inward, are all-or-none, have a duration of ≈1 ms, and are reversibly eliminated by tetrodotoxin, a Na channel poison. From cell to cell, the amplitude of the spikes ranges from 4 to 20 nA. Spike latency decreases as the depolarizing step is made larger. These spikes clearly arise at a site where the voltage is not controlled, remote from the soma. From these facts we conclude that Purkinje cell dendrites contain a sufficient density of Na channels to generate action potentials. Activation by either parallel fiber or climbing fiber synapses produces similar spikes, suggesting that normal input elicits Na action potentials in the dendrites. These findings greatly alter current views of how dendrites in these cells respond to synaptic input.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5492-5496
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Dendritic spikes
  • Ion channel distribution


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