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The influence of capsaicin on membrane currents in dorsal root ganglion neurones of guinea-pig and chicken

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The effect of capsaicin on voltage-dependent membrane currents of isolated dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurones of guinea-pig and chicken were investigated by the voltage-clamp technique and intracellular perfusion. In both species, administration of capsaicin (3·10−5 M) to the outer surface of the cell membrane reduced the amplitude and accelerated the inactivation of the fast inactivating potassium current. In contrast, 3,4-diaminopyridine (3,4-DAP) reduced the fast potassium current without affecting the inactivation. Combined application of capsaicin and 3,4-DAP was more effective than either drug alone. The slow potassium current was diminished by capsaicin but not affected by 3,4-DAP. Capsaicin (3·10−5 M) applied to the internal surface of the membrane had little effect on the fast outward current but primarily decreased the amplitude of the slow potassium current. Two subpopulations of sodium currents could be demonstrated in guinea-pig neurones according to their tetrodotoxin (TTX) sensitivity. In type I neurones the sodium current was completely blocked by TTX; type II neurones exhibited a TTX-sensitive as well as a TTX-resistant inward current. Capsaicin (3·10−5 M) applied externally reduced the maximal amplitude of both current components. The time course of inactivation was delayed only in the TTX-resistant sodium current. The effect of capsaicin on Na-currents of DRG neurones was similar in guinea-pigs and chicken. In DRG neurones of chicken, only TTX-sensitive currents were observed. In both species the steady-state inactivation of the sodium currents was shifted by capsaicin to more negative potentials.

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Correspondence to M. Petersen.

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Petersen, M., Pierau, F.-. & Weyrich, M. The influence of capsaicin on membrane currents in dorsal root ganglion neurones of guinea-pig and chicken. Pflugers Arch. 409, 403–410 (1987). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00583794

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Key words

  • Capsaicin
  • 3,4-Diaminopyridine
  • Potassium current
  • Sodium current
  • Dorsal root ganglion