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Brain Res. 1996 Nov 4;738(2):249-56.

Single-channel and whole-cell analysis of ethanol inhibition of NMDA-activated currents in cultured mouse cortical and hippocampal neurons.

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Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-8205, USA.


The effects of 0.1 to 500 mM ethanol on NMDA-activated currents were studied in primary cultures of mouse cortical and hippocampal neurons. In whole-cell recordings the IC50S for inhibition of NMDA-activated currents by ethanol were 129 mM +/- 20 mM in hippocampal neurons and 126 +/- 18 mM in cortical neurons. In single-channel recordings from excised outside-out patches of cortical neurons, ethanol inhibited total charge per minute with an IC50 of 174 +/- 23 mM, which was not significantly different from the IC50S for inhibition of whole-cell current. The reduction in mean open channel lifetime by ethanol was fit by the logistic equation with an apparent IC50 of 340 +/- 28 mM. Analysis of single-channel data indicated that ethanol inhibition of NMDA currents did not involve substantial changes in fast closed state kinetics, changes in open channel conductance, or block of the open channel. At the whole-cell IC50 of ethanol, mean open channel lifetime would decrease by 28% and frequency of opening would decline by 31% to account for the reduction in current. Single-channel data were consistent with ethanol being an allosteric modulator of gating which reduces agonist efficacy.

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