Characterization of functional subgroups among genetically identified cholinergic neurons in the pedunculopontine nucleus

B. Baksa, A. Kovács, T. Bayasgalan, P. Szentesi, Kőszeghy, P. Szücs, Balázs Pál

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3 Citations (Scopus)


The pedunculopontine nucleus (PPN) is a part of the reticular activating system which is composed of cholinergic, glutamatergic and GABAergic neurons. Early electrophysiological studies characterized and grouped PPN neurons based on certain functional properties (i.e., the presence or absence of the A-current, spike latency, and low threshold spikes). Although other electrophysiological characteristics of these neurons were also described (as high threshold membrane potential oscillations, great differences in spontaneous firing rate and the presence or absence of the M-current), systematic assessment of these properties and correlation of them with morphological markers are still missing. In this work, we conducted electrophysiological experiments on brain slices of genetically identified cholinergic neurons in the PPN. Electrophysiological properties were compared with rostrocaudal location of the neuronal soma and selected morphometric features obtained with post hoc reconstruction. We found that functional subgroups had different proportions in the rostral and caudal subregions of the nucleus. Neurons with A-current can be divided to early-firing and late-firing neurons, where the latter type was found exclusively in the caudal subregion. Similar to this, different parameters of high threshold membrane potential oscillations also showed characteristic rostrocaudal distribution. Furthermore, based on our data, we propose that high threshold oscillations rather emerge from neuronal somata and not from the proximal dendrites. In summary, we demonstrated the existence and spatial distribution of functional subgroups of genetically identified PPN cholinergic neurons, which are in accordance with differences found in projection and in vivo functional findings of the subregions. Being aware of functional differences of PPN subregions will help the design and analysis of experiments using genetically encoded opto- and chemogenetic markers for in vivo experiments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2799-2815
Number of pages17
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Jul 30 2019



  • A-current
  • Cholinergic neuron
  • High threshold oscillation
  • Pedunculopontine nucleus
  • Rostrocaudal gradient
  • Spike delay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology

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