Attractors and pathological aspects in excitable cells

Acta Biotheoretica 47 (3-4) (1999)
Abstract
In this article, physiological and pathological forms of excitability are studied in a two-dimensional electrical model of excitable cell endowed with a generic inward persistent conductance. Bifurcation analysis of the model is performed as a function of the maximal inward persistent conductance, the input current, or the voltage dependency of the activation function. Several discharge modes are exhibited, including: (1) a basic mode that corresponds to a resting potential and production of action potential; (2) bistability between resting potential and self-sustained spiking; (3) a pacemaker mode of discharge; and (4) bistability between resting potential and plateau potential. These behaviours can be compared to experimentally described physiological and pathological forms of excitability that depend upon inward persistent conductances. In the results obtained, attractors allow for a qualitative description of physiological and pathological states. However, it is not possible to obtain an unambiguous identification of particular ''physiological attractors'' or ''pathological attractors''. In the perspective of the theory of dynamical systems, we suggest that pathological states can be modelled in two different ways, i.e. by bifurcation (as in the present model) or by perturbation. We also highlight some other theoretical concepts that may be relevant to a theoretical description of pathology.
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