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J Physiol. 1994 May 1;476(3):411-21.

Mechanisms of GABA and glycine depolarization-induced calcium transients in rat dorsal horn neurons.

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Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032.


1. The mechanisms and effects of GABA- and glycine-evoked depolarization were studied in cultured rat dorsal horn neurons using indo-1 recordings of [Ca2+]i and patch clamp recordings in conventional whole-cell or perforated-patch mode. 2. Application of GABA to unclamped neurons caused [Ca2+]i increases that were dose dependent and exhibited GABAA receptor pharmacology. Calcium entered the neurons via high-threshold voltage-gated calcium channels (conotoxin and nimodipine sensitive). 3. In perforated-patch recordings employing cation-selective ionophores, GABAA receptor activation depolarized 123 of 132 cells to membrane potentials as depolarized as -33 mV (mean -50 mV in all 132 cells, +12 mV above resting potential). The ionic basis of the depolarization was determined by extracellular ion substitution; increased anionic conductance could account fully for the results. 4. Glycine, acting at a strychnine-sensitive receptor, also caused Ca2+ entry into these neurons through voltage-gated Ca2+ channels. Glycine and GABA both evoked [Ca2+]i responses in the same cells and the responses were highly correlated in amplitude. Glycine also depolarized all five cells tested with perforated recording. Each of the five cells was also depolarized by muscimol to a value similar to that obtained for glycine. 5. Both the depolarization and the increases in [Ca2+]i caused by GABA and glycine could potentially play a role in processes of development and differentiation and sensory transmission in the spinal cord dorsal horn.

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