A mechanism for ectopic firing in central demyelinated axons

Paul A. Felts, Raju Kapoor, Kenneth J. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Intracellular recordings of ectopic activity were made from demyelinated axons in rat dorsal columns using in vitro techniques. On-going bursts of discharges were observed in some axons, and these were sometimes superimposed upon slow depolarizing potentials. These intracellularly recorded, depolarizing potentials were strongly reminiscent of the slow negative potentials previously recorded extracellularly from the periaxonal region of normal myelinated fibres following potassium loading of this space. Also, in previously silent demyelinated axons, ectopic activity could sometimes be induced by brief periods of high frequency stimulation applied remotely from the lesion. The generation of the ectopic activity can be explained in terms of an artificially increased periaxonal concentration of potassium which may lead to the opening of internodal potassium channels and an inward potassium current. We suggest that a raised periaxonal potassium concentration may occur within compartments in demyelinating lesions, and that it can result in the generation of ectopic impulses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1225-1231
Number of pages7
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1995


  • Action potentials
  • Central nervous system
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Positive symptoms
  • Potassium channels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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