Persistent Inward Currents in Spinal Motoneurons: Important for Normal Function but Potentially Harmful After Spinal Cord Injury and in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

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Meaningful body movements depend on the interplay between synaptic inputs to motoneurons and their intrinsic properties. Injury and disease often alter either or both of these factors and cause motoneuron and movement dysfunction. The ability of the motoneuronal membrane to generate persistent inward currents (PICs) is especially potent in setting the intrinsic excitability of motoneurons and can drastically change the motoneuron output to a given input. In this article, we review the role of PICs in modulating the excitability of spinal motoneurons during health, and their contribution to motoneuron excitability after spinal cord injury (SCI) and in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) leading to exaggerated long-lasting reflexes and muscle spasms, and contributing to neuronal degeneration, respectively.



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