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J Neurophysiol. 1993 Jul;70(1):167-78.

Voltage dependence of the rat chorda tympani response to Na+ salts: implications for the functional organization of taste receptor cells.

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Department of Physiology, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond 23298-0551.


1. Voltage-clamp and current-clamp data were obtained from a circumscribed region of the anterior rat lingual epithelium while simultaneously monitoring the afferent, stimulus-evoked, neural response from the same receptive field. 2. Chorda tympani (CT) responses at constant Na(+)-salt concentration were enhanced by submucosa negative voltage clamp and suppressed by positive voltage clamp. The complete CT response profile, including the time course of adaptation, was not uniquely determined by NaCl concentration alone. The response could be reproduced at different NaCl concentrations by applying a compensating voltage. 3. The form of the concentration and voltage dependence of the CT response indicates that the complete stimulus energy is the Na+ electrochemical potential difference across receptor cell apical membranes, and not Na+ concentration alone. This is the underlying principal behind the equivalence of chemical and electric taste for Na+ salts. 4. CT responses to sodium gluconate (25 and 200 mM) and 25 mM NaCl produced amiloride-insensitive components (AIC) of low magnitude. NaCl at 200 mM produced a significantly larger AIC. The AIC was voltage-clamp independent. The relative magnitude of the AIC was positively correlated with the transepithelial conductance of each salt. This suggests that the large AIC for 200 mM NaCl results from its relatively high permeability through the paracellular pathway. 5. Analysis of the CT response under voltage clamp revealed two anion effects on Na(+)-salt taste, both of which act through the paracellular shunt. 1) Anions modify the transepithelial potential (TP) across tight junctions and thereby modulate the cell receptor potential. This anion effect can be eliminated by voltage clamping the TP. 2) Sufficiently mobile anions facilitate electroneutral diffusion of Na+ salts through tight junctions. This effect is observed especially when Cl- is the anion and when the stimulus concentration favors NaCl influx, allowing Na+ to stimulate receptor cells from the submucosal side. Because the submucosal intercellular spaces are nearly isopotential regions, this effect is insensitive to voltage clamp of the TP. The large AIC associated with this anion effect is due to the low permeability of amiloride.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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