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J Neurophysiol. 2012 Oct;108(7):2024-32. doi: 10.1152/jn.00361.2012. Epub 2012 Jul 5.

Intracellular Na(+) and metabolic modulation of Na/K pump and excitability in the rat suprachiasmatic nucleus neurons.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, College of Medicine, Chang Gung University, Kwei-San, Tao-Yuan, Taiwan.


Na/K pump activity and metabolic rate are both higher during the day in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) that houses the circadian clock. Here we investigated the role of intracellular Na(+) and energy metabolism in regulating Na/K pump activity and neuronal excitability. Removal of extracellular K(+) to block the Na/K pump excited SCN neurons to fire at higher rates and return to normal K(+) to reactivate the pump produced rebound hyperpolarization to inhibit firing. In the presence of tetrodotoxin to block the action potentials, both zero K(+)-induced depolarization and rebound hyperpolarization were blocked by the cardiac glycoside strophanthidin. Ratiometric Na(+) imaging with a Na(+)-sensitive fluorescent dye indicated saturating accumulation of intracellular Na(+) in response to pump blockade with zero K(+). The Na(+) ionophore monensin also induced Na(+) loading and hyperpolarized the membrane potential, with the hyperpolarizing effect of monensin abolished in zero Na(+) or by pump blockade. Conversely, Na(+) depletion with Na(+)-free pipette solution depolarized membrane potential but retained residual Na/K pump activity. Cyanide inhibition of oxidative phosphorylation blocked the Na/K pump to depolarize resting potential and increase spontaneous firing in most cells, and to raise intracellular Na(+) levels in all cells. Nonetheless, the Na/K pump was incompletely blocked by cyanide but completely blocked by iodoacetate to inhibit glycolysis, indicating the involvement of both oxidative phosphorylation and glycolysis in fueling the Na/K pump. Together, the results indicate the importance of intracellular Na(+) and energy metabolism in regulating Na/K pump activity as well as neuronal excitability in the SCN neurons.

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