Neuron Physiology



Neurons possess fundamentally related properties : l & rsquo; excitability and conduction that allow them to receive, to propagate and transmit information in the form of & rsquo; nerve impulses.

Neurons therefore differ in their ability to communicate with each other quickly, sometimes over long distances very accurately,


Several types

– Transport fast anterograde (100-400mm/j): renewal of membrane proteins to the axon, NT synthetic enzymes and precursors NM

– Transport slow antegrade (0. 1-2mm/j) Renewal of the cytoskeleton, brings the & rsquo; axoplasm of growing axons.

– Transport mitochondria :

Renewal of mitochondria and the axon endings. 10-40mm / day -Air retrograde axonal: role & rsquo; waste disposal. 150-200mm/j


A- Highlighting : diagram

Characteristic of all living cells, its value varies from one cell to another. The electrical properties that arise from this ddp are causing the neurons fonctiomiement.

B- Origin of resting potential :

1- passive phenomena :

a- Differences ionic concentrations : (example of the giant squid axon)





K+ 400 20 -75
na + 50 404 +55
Cl- 52 560 -60
A- 385

Resting, there is an unequal distribution of ions and from & rsquo; across the membrane (board). The charge separation is resulting in & rsquo; origin & rsquo; a passive movement of ions through "channels flight" selective for each species ionique.Ces passive movements are performed by two gradients :

through "channels flight" selective for each ion species. These passive movements are performed according to two gradients :

– A concentration gradient (osmotic) which tends to equalize the concentrations of the two compartments.

– An electrical gradient due to the ddp (Vm) rest and tends to leave the ions according to their electrical charge.

b- Potential balance : This equation Nernst equation to calculate the equilibrium potential of an ion (It ion) c & rsquo; is to say, the membrane potential at which this ion is vis-à-vis equilibrium electrochemical strengths.

Ex = R.T/ZF.Ln Xe/Xi

c- membrane permeability : GOLDMAN equation The membrane is permeable to ions and several ionic fluxes are a function not only of the electrochemical strengths (Em-Eion) but also the respective permeabilities, hence the Goldman equation :

Vm=R.T/F.Ln PK.(K+)+ e + a + PNafNa PCl(Cl-)e / PK.(K+)i + PNa(na +)i+PCl(Cl-)i

2- Phénomèncs assets :

To ensure the stability of the ionic concentrations requires the intervention of an active transport mechanism against electrochemical gradients : It is the pump Na + / K + ATP ase.

– Highlighting : experience marked ions

– Operation : diagram

– This pump transports 2 ions K> against 3 Na + ions thus Generator (participates in contrast to membrane potential).

Local variations in membrane potential occur in two forms :

IV- EFFECT OF STIMULUS subthreshold : LOCAL POTENTIAL (electrotonic)

Local variations of V m that allow the transmission of information over short distances.

Characteristics :

These local phenomena are due to passive physical properties of the membrane. We define two constants :

a- local response : time constant.

It is a function of the values ​​of Cm and Rm.

Corresponds to the time required for the pd equals 63% of its maximum value.

b- response spread : constant & rsquo; space.

This is the distance corresponding to a decrease of 63% of the initial amplitude ; it is based on the values ​​of series resistors (RL) :

  • Wholesale fiber diameter RL low -► -► constant high time
  • fine fiber -► -► RL consistently high low time


This is the mode of communication of the nervous system over long distances.

1- Highlighting : diagram

2- Characteristics :

Stimulation causes after a latency stereotypical variation of Vm ; there are several phases :

– fast and abrupt depolarization with inversion of Vm (from -70 at +30) and the beginning of a rapid repolarization, its duration is 0,5 my brood juncture. This phase corresponds to the absolute refractory period (FOR).

– Slower repolarisation : Corresponds to the relative refractory period (PRR)

– Post hyperpolarization or excitability subnormal.

3- Ionic bases of the action potential :

– At the time of peak Vm tends to E Na +, indeed :

– In medium without Na + is not obtained of the action potential and any change in the extracellular Na + causes a variation in the same direction of the amplitude of the PA.

– If you block Na + channels Voltage Dependent by tetrodotoxin (TTX) : the cell is inexcitable despite a normal PR.

– The technique of "voltage clamp" court shows that the tip, for g = 1 + K, GNA + = 20

Au total : the action potential results from a sudden increase in Na + g with massive influx of Na + and reverse Vm.

– At the threshold value potential, Na + channels VD "closed activatable" pass to the "open" state from which depolarization and opening of other Na + channels VD (processus regenerative).

– The refractory period is due to inactivation of Na + channels VD :

– PRA in all are inactivables

– in PRR they gradually désinactivent

– Repolarization is due to the inactivation Na + channels VD and especially the "delayed" activation of K + channels VD, where efflux of K + and repolarization.

– The return to the rest balance is provided by the pump Na + K + ATP ase.

4- nerve conduction :

The action potential is & lsquo; no attenuation propagates along the axon ; two situations :

a- Fibers nonmyelinated :

The induced membrane depolarization "local currents" which depolarize neighboring regions where opening of Na + channels VD and forming a remote action potential.

The nerve impulse can not go back because of the inactivation of Na + channels VD.

The conduction velocity is propor tional to the diameter of the axon (low RL).

b- myelinated :

The action potential formed at the first node moves to the second due to the presence of the myelin sheath (insulating) and the scarcity of Na + channels in VD inter nodal regions : is saltatory conduction.

The presence of the myelin sheath provides two, benefits :

– time saving : high conduction velocity.

– an energy gain : reduced activity of the pump Na + / K + ATPase.

Course of Dr A. CHIKHI – Faculty of Constantine