Sodium currents in fast firing neurons are tuned to support sustained firing rates >50-60 Hz. This is typically accomplished with fast channel kinetics and the ability to minimize the accumulation of Na channels into inactivated states. Neurons in the medial vestibular nuclei (MVN) can fire at exceptionally high rates, but their Na currents have never been characterized. In this study, Na current kinetics and voltage-dependent properties were compared in two classes of MVN neurons with distinct firing properties. Non-GABAergic neurons (fluorescently labeled in YFP-16 transgenic mice) have action potentials with faster rise and fall kinetics and sustain higher firing rates than GABAergic neurons (fluorescently labeled in GIN transgenic mice). A previous study showed that these neurons express a differential balance of K currents. To determine whether the Na currents in these two populations were different, their kinetics and voltage-dependent properties were measured in acutely dissociated neurons from 24- to 40-day-old mice. All neurons expressed persistent Na currents and large transient Na currents with resurgent kinetics tuned for fast firing. No differences were found between the Na currents expressed in GABAergic and non-GABAergic MVN neurons, suggesting that differences in properties of these neurons are tuned by their K currents.
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