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Synaptic stimulation of nicotinic receptors in rat sympathetic ganglia is followed by slow activation of postsynaptic potassium or chloride conductances



Two slow currents have been described in rat sympathetic neurons during and after tetanization of the whole preganglionic input. Both effects are mediated by nicotinic receptors activated by native acetylcholine (ACh). A first current, indicated as IAHPsyn, is calcium dependent and voltage independent, and is consistent with an IAHP-type potassium current sustained by calcium ions accompanying the nicotinic synaptic current. The conductance activated by a standard synaptic train was ∼ 3.6 nS per neuron; it was detected in isolation in 14 out of a 52-neuron sample. A novel current, IADPsyn, was described in 42/52 of the sample as a post-tetanic inward current, which increased in amplitude with increasing membrane potential negativity and exhibited a null-point close to the holding potential and the cell momentary chloride equilibrium potential. IADPsyn developed during synaptic stimulation and decayed thereafter according to a single exponential (mean τ = 148.5 ms) in 18 neurons or according to a two-exponential time course (τ = 51.8 and 364.9 ms, respectively) in 19 different neurons. The mean peak conductance activated was ∼ 20 nS per neuron. IADPsyn was calcium independent, it was affected by internal and external chloride concentration, but was insensitive to specific blockers (anthracene-9-carboxylic acid, 9AC) of the chloride channels open in the resting neuron. It is suggested that gADPsyn represents a specific chloride conductance activatable by intense nicotinic stimulation; in some neurons it is even associated with single excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSCs). Both IAHP and IADPsyn are apparently devoted to reduce neuronal excitability during and after intense synaptic stimulation.