Barbiturate-induced alterations in the kinetic parameters of slow outward current in Aplysia giant neurons.
Regulation of spike frequency adaptation has been postulated to be a neuronal mechanism of action of the barbiturates (Zbicz and Wilson, 1981). A barbiturate sensitive slow outward current is present in Aplysia giant neurons, and this current is very effective at regulating adaptation. In the current study a quantitative method of determining the effect of barbiturates was developed using a single-electrode voltage clamp. This method, tail current analysis, involved measuring the exponential decay of the slow outward current at the end of a depolarizing voltage-clamp command. The tail currents were made up of two decay phases with average half-times of 7 and 70 sec, and the tail current amplitude accurately reflected the magnitude of slow outward current. Barbiturates were found to cause a concentration-related, saturable and stereospecific increase in one component of the tail currents, the amplitude of the slow phase. With moderate concentrations of barbiturates there were no changes in the other parameters describing the exponential decay current. The rank order of potency of barbiturates for the enhancement of slow outward current was not well correlated with the lipid solubility of these drugs, indicating that slow outward current enhancement is not due to a nonspecific mechanism, but rather may be receptor mediated.
Huguenard, JR; Wilson, WA
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