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J Neurophysiol. 1997 Nov;78(5):2246-53.

Contribution of outward currents to spike-frequency adaptation in hypoglossal motoneurons of the rat.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Washington, School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA.


Contribution of outward currents to spike-frequency adaptation in hypoglossal motoneurons of the rat. J. Neurophysiol. 78: 2246-2253, 1997. Spike-frequency adaptation has been attributed to the actions of several different membrane currents. In this study, we assess the contributions of two of these currents: the net outward current generated by the electrogenic Na+-K+ pump and the outward current that flows through Ca2+-activated K+ channels. In recordings made from hypoglossal motoneurons in slices of rat brain stem, we found that bath application of a 4-20 microM ouabain solution produced a partial block of Na+-K+ pump activity as evidenced by a marked reduction in the postdischarge hyperpolarization that follows a period of sustained discharge. However, we observed no significant change in either the initial, early, or late phases of spike-frequency adaptation in the presence of ouabain. Adaptation also has been related to increases in the duration and magnitude of the medium-duration afterhyperpolarization (mAHP) mediated by Ca2+-activated K+ channels. When we replaced the 2 mM Ca2+ in the bathing solution with Mn2+, there was a significant decrease in the amplitude of the mAHP after a spike. The decrease in mAHP amplitude resulted in a decrease in the magnitude of the initial phase of spike-frequency adaptation as has been reported previously by others. However, quite unexpectedly we also found that reducing the mAHP resulted in a dramatic increase in the magnitude of both the early and late phases of adaptation. These changes could be reversed by restoring the normal Ca2+ concentration in the bath. Our results with ouabain indicate that the Na+-K+ pump plays little, if any, role in the three phases of adaptation in rat hypoglossal motoneurons. Our results with Ca2+ channel blockade support the hypothesis that initial adaptation is, in part, controlled by conductances underlying the mAHP. However, our failure to eliminate initial adaptation completely by blocking Ca2+ channels suggests that other membrane mechanisms also contribute. Finally, the increase in both the early and late phases of adaptation in the presence of Mn2+ block of Ca2+ channels lends further support to the hypothesis that the initial and later (i.e., early and late) phases of spike-frequency adaptation are mediated by different cellular mechanisms.

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