Send to

Choose Destination
Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2000 Jul;279(1):C31-9.

Excitation, inhibition, and suppression by odors in isolated toad and rat olfactory receptor neurons.

Author information

Departamento de BiologĂ­a, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile.


Vertebrate olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) exhibit odor-induced increases in action potential firing rate due to an excitatory cAMP-dependent current. Fish and amphibian ORNs also give inhibitory odor responses, manifested as decreases in firing rate, but the underlying mechanism is poorly understood. In the toad, an odor-induced Ca(2+)-activated K(+) current is responsible for the hyperpolarizing receptor potential that causes inhibition. In isolated ORNs, a third manner by which odors affect firing is suppression, a direct and nonspecific reduction of voltage-gated and transduction conductances. Here we show that in whole cell voltage-clamped toad ORNs, excitatory or inhibitory currents were not strictly associated to a particular odorant mixture. Occasionally, both odor effects, in addition to suppression, were concurrently observed in a cell. We report that rat ORNs also exhibit odor-induced inhibitory currents, due to the activation of a K(+) conductance closely resembling that in the toad, suggesting that this conductance is widely distributed among vertebrates. We propose that ORNs operate as complex integrator units in the olfactory epithelium, where the first events in the process of odor discrimination take place.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center