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Separation of current induced by potassium accumulation from acetylcholine-induced relaxation current in the rabbit S-A node

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In a previous analysis on the rabbit S-A node the ACh-induced current was separated from the membrane current by subtracting the control from the current recorded in presence of ACh. In view of a possible interference of K accumulation processes, in the present paper the validity of the subtraction method was tested by studying the direct and indirect effects of ACh on the outward potassium current (i K). The following results were obtained.

  1. (1)

    The ACh-dependent channel activation and thei K-channel activation are different processes.

  2. (2)

    The activation curve ofi K and the time constant of decay ofi K current on return from a depolarizing clamp pulse were not affected by ACh.

  3. (3)

    In the majority of the experiments the presence of an accumulation component in the extra-current elicited by ACh could not be resolved. In a few cases the amplitude of the tail current was decreased in the presence of ACh.

  4. (4)

    In the case wherei K was reduced, the fullyactivated current-voltage relationship\((\bar i_K )\) was altered in the same way as that observed when the external K concentration was increased. In this case the difference between the control and the current recorded in the presence of ACh yielded a current component having a time constant similar to that ofi K. We concluded that the decrease in the amplitude was due to an increase in K concentration in the clefts between the cells (K accumulation), associated with ACh application. No direct effect of ACh on thei K channel is apparent.

  5. (5)

    Because of the difference in the time constants of the relaxation current and the current change induced by accumulation the two processes could be clearly separated from each other.

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Correspondence to W. Trautwein.

Additional information

This work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft SFB 38, project G

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DiFrancesco, D., Noma, A. & Trautwein, W. Separation of current induced by potassium accumulation from acetylcholine-induced relaxation current in the rabbit S-A node. Pflugers Arch. 387, 83–90 (1980). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00584257

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Key words

  • Sinoatrial node
  • Potassium accumulation
  • Relaxation of acetylcholine-induced current