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Br J Pharmacol. 1997 May;121(2):324-30.

Actions of the anaesthetic Saffan on rat sympathetic preganglionic neurones in vitro.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Foresterhill, Scotland.


1. Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings were used to investigate the effects of the anaesthetic Saffan on the electrophysiological properties of sympathetic preganglionic neurones (SPNs) in rat spinal cord slices. 2. Saffan (1-54 microM) abolished or reduced the frequency of spontaneous action potential firing and abolished spontaneous, sub-threshold membrane potential oscillations. Saffan caused dose-dependent decreases in input resistance and depending upon the initial resting membrane potential, either a depolarization, a hyperpolarization or no change in membrane potential. 3. Responses to Saffan were blocked by the GABAA receptor antagonists bicuculline (5-20 microM) and picrotoxin (20 microM), but not by the glycine receptor antagonist strychnine (20 microM) indicating that they were mediated by GABAA receptors. 4. Changes in the properties of SPN action potentials were also observed. In the presence of Saffan the amplitude and duration of the action potential after-hyperpolarization were reduced and larger depolarizations were required in order to evoke trains of action potentials. 5. To examine the effects of Saffan on electrotonic coupling between SPNs, experiments were performed with the Na+ channel blocker QX-314 in the intracellular solution and antidromic oscillations were evoked by ventral root stimulation. Saffan failed to abolish antidromic oscillations, but reduced their amplitude and duration. This indicates that the abolition of spontaneous membrane potential oscillations was not a direct effect on the coupling between SPNs, but was a result of the abolition of spontaneous activity by Saffan. 6. The responses to Saffan occurred within the plasma concentration range of Saffan during anaesthesia, suggesting that the electrophysiological properties of SPNs may be altered during anaesthesia with Saffan. This would be expected to lead to changes in sympathetic tone and in the integration of sympathetic output.

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