Postinhibitory excitation in motoneurons can be facilitated by hyperpolarization-activated inward currents: A simulation study

Laura Schmid, Thomas Klotz, Oliver Röhrle, Randall K. Powers, Francesco Negro, Utku Yavuz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Postinhibitory excitation is a transient overshoot of a neuron’s baseline firing rate following an inhibitory stimulus and can be observed in vivo in human motoneurons. However, the biophysical origin of this phenomenon is still unknown and both reflex pathways and intrinsic motoneuron properties have been proposed. We hypothesized that postinhibitory excitation in motoneurons can be facilitated by hyperpolarization-activated inward currents (h-currents). Using an electrical circuit model, we investigated how h-currents can modulate the postinhibitory response of motoneurons. Further, we analyzed the spike trains of human motor units from the tibialis anterior muscle during reciprocal inhibition. The simulations revealed that the activation of h-currents by an inhibitory postsynaptic potential can cause a short-term increase in a motoneuron’s firing probability. This result suggests that the neuron can be excited by an inhibitory stimulus. In detail, the modulation of the firing probability depends on the time delay between the inhibitory stimulus and the previous action potential. Further, the postinhibitory excitation’s strength correlates with the inhibitory stimulus’s amplitude and is negatively correlated with the baseline firing rate as well as the level of input noise. Hallmarks of h-current activity, as identified from the modeling study, were found in 50% of the human motor units that showed postinhibitory excitation. This study suggests that h-currents can facilitate postinhibitory excitation and act as a modulatory system to increase motoneuron excitability after a strong inhibition.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1011487
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2024

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