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This article is part of the supplement: Eighteenth Annual Computational Neuroscience Meeting: CNS*2009

Open Access Poster presentation

Model of synaptic transmission in the calyx of Held

Dmitry Bibitchkov123*, Holger Taschenberger1 and Erwin Neher13

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Membrane Biophysics, Max-Planck-Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen, Germany

2 Network Dynamics Group, Max-Planck-Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Göttingen, Germany

3 Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience, Göttingen, Germany

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BMC Neuroscience 2009, 10(Suppl 1):P219  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-10-S1-P219

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published:13 July 2009

© 2009 Bibitchkov et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Poster presentation

The calyx of Held is a giant synaptic terminal in the MNTB of the auditory brainstem. Observations of postsynaptic responses to repeated stimulation reveal that this synapse exhibits complex behavior, which results from the interplay between processes such as vesicle pool depletion, activity-dependent recovery from depletion, synaptic facilitation and postsynaptic receptor desensitization. Intracellular calcium concentration ([Ca2+]) plays an important role in the neurotransmitter release and the regulation of short-term plasticity [1]. We build a detailed computational model of the synaptic transmission at the calyx, which captures all the above mentioned processes and includes the dynamics of calcium and its influence on the parameters of synaptic dynamics. The model is based on electrophysiological data obtained by patch clamp recordings from postsynaptic MNTB cells in rat brainstem slices. Calcium dynamics and the functional dependences of synaptic parameters on [Ca2+] are modeled based on previously published data [2]. Stimulating the synapse at different frequencies (from 0.2 to 200 Hz) and using pharmacological manipulations, we were able to separate contributions of different processes and determine the parameters of synaptic dynamics, which fit experimental data. We compare the fit with the previous phenomenological model [3], which does not include explicit dynamics of intracellular Ca2+.


Supported by BMBF 01FQ0431 grant.


  1. Neher E, Sakaba T: Multiple roles of calcium ions in the regulation of neurotransmitter release.

    Neuron 2008, 59:861-872. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text OpenURL

  2. Hosoi N, Sakaba T, Neher E: Quantitative analysis of calcium-dependent vesicle recruitment and its functional role at the calyx of Held synapse.

    J Neurosci 2007, 27:14286-14298. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text OpenURL

  3. Bibitchkov D, Bao J, Neher E: Information transmission by synapses with short-term synaptic plasticity.

    BMC Neurosci 2007, 8:P90. BioMed Central Full Text OpenURL