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Effect of aconitine on the sodium permeability of the node of ranvier

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The effect of aconitine (10−5–10−6 g/ml) on membrane potentials and membrane currents of myelinated nerve fibres of Xenopus laevis was investigated. The following observations were made:

  1. a)

    Current clamp conditions: Slow depolarization (10–15 mV), decrease of amplitude and maximum rate of rise of action potential, finally inexcitability. With inward current pulses ‘hyperpolarizing responses’ could be elicited at membrane potentials more negative than the resting potential (E r ). Neither spontaneous activity nor repetitive responses to electrical stimuli were observed. No effects of aconitine were found in Na-free solutions or in the presence of tetrodotoxin.

  2. b)

    Voltage clamp conditions: Development of steady inward current at normal resting potential due to formation of a non-inactivating sodium permeability; heavily poisoned nodes therefore exhibit an N-shaped steady-state current voltage relation with negative slope at membrane potentials more negative thanE r . These non-inactivating sodium channels open more slowly than normal sodium channels, and can only be closed by hyperpolarizing the membrane by about 50 mV. The majority of sodium channels have almost normalτ m; theirm andh -V relations are shifted by 10–15 mV towardsE r . It is concluded that these changes of the sodium permeability account for the changes of electrical activity observed after treatment with aconitine.

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Supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Bad Godesberg, Germany (Sonderforschungsbereich 38 “Membranforschung”).

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Schmidt, H., Schmitt, O. Effect of aconitine on the sodium permeability of the node of ranvier. Pflugers Arch. 349, 133–148 (1974). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00586624

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Key words

  • Node of Ranvier
  • Sodium Permeability
  • Aconitine