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J Physiol. 1995 Feb 15;483 ( Pt 1):15-27.

The slow Ca(2+)-activated K+ current, IAHP, in the rat sympathetic neurone.

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Istituto di Fisiologia Generale dell' Università, Ferrara, Italy.


1. Adult and intact sympathetic neurones of the rat superior cervical ganglion maintained in vitro at 37 degrees C were analysed using the two-electrode voltage-clamp technique in order to investigate the slow component of the Ca(2+)-dependent K+ current, IAHP. 2. The relationship between the after-hyperpolarization (AHP) conductance, gAHP, and estimated Ca2+ influx resulting from short-duration calcium currents evoked at various voltages proved to be linear over a wide range of injected Ca2+ charge. An inflow of about 1.7 x 10(7) Ca2+ ions was required before significant activation of gAHP occurred. After priming, the gAHP sensitivity was about 0.3 nS pC-1 of Ca2+ inward charge. 3. IAHP was repeatedly measured at different membrane potentials; its amplitude decreased linearly with membrane hyperpolarization and was mostly abolished close to the K+ reversal potential, EK (-93 mV). The monoexponential decay rate of IAHP was a linear function of total Ca2+ entry and was not significantly altered by membrane potential in the -40 to -80 mV range. 4. Voltage-clamp tracings of IAHP could be modelled as a difference between two exponentials with tau on approximately 5 ms and tau off = 50-250 ms. 5. Sympathetic neurones discharged only once at the onset of a long-lasting depolarizing step. If IAHP was selectively blocked by apamin or D-tubocurarine treatments, accommodation was abolished and an unusual repetitive firing appeared. 6. Summation of IAHP was demonstrated under voltage-clamp conditions when the depolarizing steps were repeated sufficiently close to one another. Under current-clamp conditions the threshold depolarizing charge for action potential discharge significantly increased with progressive pulse numbers in the train, suggesting that an opposing conductance was accumulating with repetitive firing. This frequency-dependent spike firing ability was eliminated by pharmacological inhibition of the slow IAHP. 7. The IAHP was significantly activated by a single action potential; it was turned on cumulatively by Ca2+ load during successive action potential discharge and acted to further limit cell excitability.

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