In pyramidal neurons of the rat sensorimotor cortex, we have investigated the modulation of high voltage-activated calcium currents by agonists at group III metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs). l-2-Amino-4-phosphonobutyrate (1-AP4) and l-serine-O-phosphate (1-SOP) reduced calcium currents in the vast majority of cells isolated from the adult animal. Interestingly, this modulation was negligible in the young animals (2-14 postnatal days), becoming prominent only after full development (more than 21 days). The efficacy of 1-SOP mimicked 1-AP4 in reducing calcium currents. Yet, l-SOP produced saturating responses at about 3 μM and significant modulation at nanomolar concentrations (EC50 = 923 nM). The voltage-dependence of the group III mGluR-mediated responses was evaluated by comparing the inhibition of 'standard' and 'facilitated' conductances. On the calcium currents facilitated by depolarizing prepulse, 3 μM l-SOP produced a mean 13.4% inhibition compared with 19.6% in control condition, supporting the proposition that part of the modulation was voltage-dependent. The calcium current inhibition caused by the activation of group III metabotropic glutamate receptors was only partially sensitive to ω-conotoxin GVIA, but largely inhibited by ω-agatoxin IVA, at concentrations (100 nM) known to block P- and Q-type channels. Conversely, the dihydropyridine antagonists nifedipine and nimodipine (50-500 nM) failed to prevent the group III mGluR-mediated response in the majority of tested cells (more than 65%). Furthermore, the long-lasting tail promoted by the inclusion of the dihydropyridine agonist Bay K 8644 was not consistently affected by 1-SOP and 1-AP4. These findings imply that the observed modulation involves different channel subtypes, namely N- and P- or Q-type channels, and suggests that group III mGluRs play an important role in the intrinsic and synaptic functions of adult cortical pyramidal neurons.
- Calcium conductances
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