• development;
  • nicotinic receptor;
  • Ca2+ influx;
  • Ca2+-activated K+ channels;
  • postsynaptic cisterna


Acetylcholine-evoked currents were investigated using the conventional whole-cell patch-clamp recording technique in developing outer hair cells (OHCs). The cells were isolated from the rat cochlea at different stages of postnatal development ranging from day 4 (P4) to P30. Acetylcholine-evoked currents could be recorded at P6 and P8. At this developmental stage, the majority of OHCs displayed inward nicotinic-like currents near the resting membrane potential. These cholinergic currents zeroed near 0 mV, as expected for a non-selective cation current, and could be reversibly blocked by d-tubocurarine. At P12 and adult stage, the cholinergic response of OHCs switched to an outward current reversing near EK and displaying a bell shape peaking between -40 and -30 mV. This change in polarity of the acetylcholine response during postnatal development might be explained by progressive functional coupling between acetylcholine ionotropic receptors permeable to Ca2+ and nearby Ca2+-activated K+ channels at the synaptic pole of OHCs.