Send to

Choose Destination
Neuroscience. 2003;117(2):249-64.

Dual effect of Zn2+ on multiple types of voltage-dependent Ca2+ currents in rat palaeocortical neurons.

Author information

Dipartimento di Scienze Fisiologiche-Farmacologiche Cellulari-Molecolari, Sezione di Fisiologia Generale e Biofisica Cellulare, Università degli Studi di Pavia, Via Forlanini 6, 27100 Pavia, Italy.


The effects of Zn(2+) were evaluated on high-voltage-activated Ca(2+) currents expressed by pyramidal neurons acutely dissociated from rat piriform cortex. Whole-cell, patch-clamp experiments were carried out using Ba(2+) (5 mM) as the charge carrier. Zn(2+) blocked total high-voltage-activated Ba(2+) currents with an IC(50) of approximately 21 microM. In addition, after application of non-saturating Zn(2+) concentrations, residual currents activated with substantially slower kinetics than control Ba(2+) currents. Both of the above-mentioned effects of Zn(2+) were also observed in high-voltage-activated currents recorded in the presence of nearly-physiological concentrations of extracellular Ca(2+) (1 and 2 mM) rather than Ba(2+). Under the latter conditions, 30 microM Zn(2+) inhibited high-voltage-activated currents somewhat less than observed in extracellular Ba(2+) (approximately 47% and approximately 41%, respectively, vs. approximately 59%), but slowed Ca(2+)-current activation to very similar degrees. All of the pharmacological components in which Ba(2+) currents could be dissected (L-, N-, P/Q-, and R-type) were inhibited by Zn(2+), the percentage of current blocked by 30 microM Zn(2+) ranging from 34 to 57%. Moreover, the activation kinetics of all pharmacological Ba(2+) current components were slowed by Zn(2+). Hence, the lower activation speed observed in residual Ba(2+) currents after Zn(2+) block is due to a true slowing of macroscopic Ca(2+)-current activation kinetics and not to the preferential inhibition of a fast-activating current component. The inhibitory effect of Zn(2+) on Ba(2+) current amplitude was voltage-independent over the whole voltage range explored (-60 to +30 mV), hence the Zn(2+)-dependent decrease of Ba(2+) current activation speed is not the consequence of a voltage- and time-dependent relief from block. Zn(2+) also caused a slight, but significant, reduction of Ba(2+) current deactivation speed upon repolarization, which is further evidence against a depolarization-dependent unblocking mechanism. Finally, the slowing effect of Zn(2+) on Ca(2+)-channel activation kinetics was found to result in a significant, extra reduction of Ba(2+) current amplitude when action-potential-like waveforms, rather than step pulses, were used as depolarizing stimuli. We conclude that Zn(2+) exerts a dual action on multiple types of voltage-gated Ca(2+) channels, causing a blocking effect and altering the speed at which channels are delivered to conducting states, with mechanism(s) that could be distinct.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center