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J Neurophysiol. 2000 Jan;83(1):192-7.

Calcium release from internal stores is required for the generation of spontaneous hyperpolarizations in dopaminergic neurons of neonatal rats.

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  • 1Laboratory of Pharmacology, University of Liège, Tour de Pathologie (B23), B-4000 Sart Tilman/Liège 1, Belgium.


We recently have demonstrated the existence of spontaneous hyperpolarizations in midbrain dopaminergic neurons of neonatal but not adult rats. These events are mediated by the opening of apamin-sensitive K(+) channels after a rise in the intracellular concentration of Ca(2+). They are resistant to tetrodotoxin in most cases and are probably endogenous (i.e., not synaptically activated). Here their mechanism was investigated. Cyclopiazonic acid (10 microM), a specific inhibitor of endoplasmic reticulum Ca(2+) ATPases, reversibly abolished the events. Caffeine, which promotes Ca(2+) release from intracellular stores, had concentration-dependent effects. At 1 mM, it markedly and steadily increased the frequency and the amplitude of the hyperpolarizations. At 10 mM, it induced a transient increase in their frequency followed by their cessation. All these effects were quickly reversible. Ryanodine (10 microM), which decreases the conductance of Ca(2+) release channels, irreversibly blocked the spontaneous hyperpolarizations. Dantrolene (100 microM), a blocker of Ca(2+) release from sarcoplasmic reticulum of striated muscle, did not affect the events. On the other hand, Cd(2+) (100-300 microM), a broad antagonist of membrane voltage-gated Ca(2+) channels, significantly reduced the amplitude and the frequency of the hyperpolarizations. However, when the frequency of the events was increased by 1 mM caffeine, Cd(2+) affected them to a smaller extent, whereas cyclopiazonic acid still abolished them. We conclude that internal stores are the major source of Ca(2+) ions that induce the K(+) channel openings underlying the spontaneous hyperpolarizations of these neurons.

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