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Auton Neurosci. 2012 Dec 24;172(1-2):4-12. doi: 10.1016/j.autneu.2012.10.014. Epub 2012 Nov 10.

Differential distribution of voltage-gated channels in myelinated and unmyelinated baroreceptor afferents.

Author information

1
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA.

Abstract

Voltage gated ion channels (VGC) make possible the frequency coding of arterial pressure and the neurotransmission of this information along myelinated and unmyelinated fiber pathways. Although many of the same VGC isoforms are expressed in both fiber types, it is the relative expression of each that defines the unique discharge properties of myelinated A-type and unmyelinated C-type baroreceptors. For example, the fast inward Na⁺ current is a major determinant of the action potential threshold and the regenerative transmembrane current needed to sustain repetitive discharge. In A-type baroreceptors the TTX-sensitive Na(v)1.7 VGC contributes to the whole cell Na⁺ current. Na(v)1.7 is expressed at a lower density in C-type neurons and in conjunction with TTX-insensitive Na(v)1.8 and Na(v)1.9 VGC. As a result, action potentials of A-type neurons have firing thresholds that are 15-20 mV more negative and upstroke velocities that are 5-10 times faster than unmyelinated C-type neurons. A more depolarized threshold in conjunction with a broader complement of non-inactivating K(V) VGC subtypes produces C-type action potentials that are 3-4 times longer in duration than A-type neurons and at markedly lower levels of cell excitability. Unmyelinated baroreceptors also express KCa1.1 which provides approximately 25% of the total outward K⁺ current. KCa1.1 plays a critically important role in shaping the action potential profile of C-type neurons and strongly impacts neuronal excitability. A-type neurons do not functionally express the KCa1.1 channel despite having a whole cell Ca(V) current quite similar to that of C-type neurons. As a result, A-type neurons do not have the frequency-dependent braking forces of KCa1.1. Lack of a KCa current and only a limited complement of non-inactivating K(V) VGC in addition to a hyperpolarization activated HCN1 current that is nearly 10 times larger than in C-type neurons leads to elevated levels of discharge in A-type neurons, a hallmark of myelinated baroreceptors. Interestingly, HCN2 and HCN4 expression levels are comparable in both fiber types. Collectively, such apportion of VGC constrains the neural coding of myelinated A-type baroreceptors to low threshold, high frequency, high fidelity discharge but with a limited capacity for neuromodulation of afferent bandwidth. Unmyelinated C-type baroreceptors require greater depolarizing forces for spike initiation and have a low frequency discharge profile that is often poorly correlated with the physiological stimulus. But the complement of VGC in C-type neurons provides far greater capacity for neuromodulation of cell excitability than can be obtained from A-type baroreceptors.

PMID:
23146622
DOI:
10.1016/j.autneu.2012.10.014
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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