Reduced outward K+ conductances generate depolarizing after–potentials in rat supraoptic nucleus neurones



  • 1Whole-cell patch clamp recordings were obtained from sixty-five rat supraoptic nucleus (SON) neurones in brain slices to investigate ionic mechanisms underlying depolarizing after-potentials (DAPs). When cells were voltage clamped around -58 mV, slow inward currents mediating DAPs (Idap), evoked by three brief depolarizing pulses, had a peak of 17 ± 1 pA (mean ± s.e.m.) and lasted for 2.8 ± 0.1 s.
  • 2No significant differences in the amplitude and duration were observed when one to three preceding depolarizing pulses were applied, although there was a tendency for twin pulses to evoke larger Idap than a single pulse. The Idap was absent when membrane potentials were more negative than -70 mV. In the range -70 to -50 mV, Idap amplitudes and durations increased as the membrane became more depolarized, with an activation threshold of -65.7 ± 0.7 mV.
  • 3I dap with normal amplitude and duration could be evoked during the decay of a preceding Idap. As frequencies of depolarizing pulses rose from 2 to 20 Hz, the times to peak Idap amplitude were reduced but the amplitudes and durations did not change.
  • 4A consistent reduction in membrane conductance during the Idap was observed in all SON neurones tested, and averaged 34.6 ± 3.3%. Small hyperpolarizing pulses used to measure membrane conductances appeared not to disturb major ionic mechanisms underlying Idap, since the slope and duration of Idap with and without test pulses were similar.
  • 5The Idap had an averaged reversal potential of -87.4 ± 1.6 mV, which was close to the K+ equilibrium potential. An elevation in [K+]O reduced or abolished the Idap, and shifted its reversal potential toward more positive levels. Perifusion of slices with 7.5–10 mm TEA, a K+ channel blocker, reversibly suppressed the Idap.
  • 6Both Na+ and Ca2+ currents failed to induce an Idap-like current during perifusion of slices with media containing high [K+]o or TEA. However, the Idap was abolished by replacing external Ca2+ with Co2+, or replacing 82% of external Na+ with choline or Li+. Perifusion of slices with media containing 1–2 μm TTX also reduced Idap by 55.5 ± 9.0 %.
  • 7These results suggest that the generation of DAPs in SON neurones mainly involves a reduction in outward K+ current(s), which probably has little or no inactivation and can be inhibited by [Ca2+]i transients, due to Ca2+ influx during action potentials and Ca2+ release from internal stores. Na+ influx might provide a permissive influence for Ca2+-induced reduction of K+ conductances and/or help to raise [Ca2+]i via reverse-mode Ca2+-Na+ exchange. Other conductances, making minor contributions to the Idap, may also be involved.