Role for T-type Ca2+ channels in sleep waves

  • Vincenzo CrunelliEmail author
  • Francois David
  • Nathalie Leresche
  • Régis C. LambertEmail author
Invited Review


Since their discovery more than 30 years ago, low-threshold T-type Ca2+ channels (T channels) have been suggested to play a key role in many EEG waves of non-REM sleep, which has remained exclusively linked to the ability of these channels to generate low-threshold Ca2+ potentials and associated high-frequency bursts of action potentials. Our present understanding of the biophysics and physiology of T channels, however, highlights a much more diverse and complex picture of the pivotal contributions that they make to different sleep rhythms. In particular, recent experimental evidence has conclusively demonstrated the essential contribution of thalamic T channels to the expression of slow waves of natural sleep and the key role played by Ca2+ entry through these channels in the activation or modulation of other voltage-dependent channels that are important for the generation of both slow waves and sleep spindles. However, the precise contribution to sleep rhythms of T channels in cortical neurons and other sleep-controlling neuronal networks remains unknown, and a full understanding of the cellular and network mechanisms of sleep delta waves is still lacking.


Cortex Thalamus Sleep slow oscillation Sleep spindles Delta waves Slow waves Theta waves ITwindow Ih ICAN Sleep waves Ca2+ channels Neural networks 



VC work in this field is supported by The Wellcome Trust (grant 91882); NL and RCL work by Agence Nationale de la Recherche (grant MNMP-2009) and CNRS (LEA 528).


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of BiosciencesCardiff UniversityCardiffUK
  2. 2.Sorbonne Universités, UPMC Univ Paris 06ParisFrance
  3. 3.CNRSParisFrance
  4. 4.INSERMParisFrance

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