Diffusion in a dendritic spine: The role of geometry Academic Article uri icon


  • Dendritic spines, the sites where excitatory synapses are made in most neurons, can dynamically regulate diffusing molecules by changing their shape. We present here a combination of theory, simulations, and experiments to quantify the diffusion time course in dendritic spines. We derive analytical formulas and compared them to Brownian simulations for the mean sojourn time a diffusing molecule stays inside a dendritic spine when either the molecule can reenter the spine head or not, once it is located in the spine neck. We show that the spine length is the fundamental regulatory geometrical parameter for the diffusion decay rate in the neck only. By changing the spine length, dendritic spines can be dynamically coupled or uncoupled to their parent dendrites, which regulates diffusion, and this property makes them unique structures, different from static dendrites.

publication date

  • September 1, 2007