Electrical and Secretory Response to Cholinergic Stimulation in Mouse and Human Adrenal Medullary Chromaffin Cells

  • Verónica Nassar-Gentina
  • Harvey B. Pollard
  • Eduardo Rojas
Part of the Series of the Centro de Estudios Científicos de Santiago book series (SCEC)


Chromaffin cells from the adrenal gland secrete catecholamines in response to acetylcholine (ACh).(1,2) ACh induces a transient depolarization of the adrenal chromaffin cell membrane, which in some animals is due to the opening of nicotinic-receptor channels.(3–7) It has been observed that the ACh-induced depolarization is often accompanied by the generation of action potentials or by a marked increase in the frequency of spontaneously occuring action potentials.(3,6–9) These action potentials are presumably due to the activation of both Na+ and Ca2+ voltage-gated ionic channels. Blocking Na + -channels with tetrodotoxin (TTX) leads to a partial inhibition of the stimulated release of catecholamines.(10,11) This result suggests that Ca2+ entry associated with the ACh-evoked depolarization is reduced in the presence of TTX.(10,11) The rapid depolarization resulting from the activation of Na+ -channels should enhance Ca2+ entry by recruitment of Ca2+ -channels with a more positive potential for activation. This is presumably the physiological pathway for Ca2+ entry at low concentrations of ACh (10 μM). At high concentrations of ACh (55 μM), however, additional Ca2+ entry occurs through the ACh nicotinic-receptor channel.(12) While Ca2+ entry through the ACh-channel is restricted to the small region of clustered nicotinic-receptor channels, voltage-dependent Ca2+ -channels are probably evenly distributed over the entire cell surface as patch-clamp(9) and other studies(13) appear to indicate.


Current Pulse Chromaffin Cell Adrenal Medulla Rest Membrane Potential Input Resistance 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Verónica Nassar-Gentina
    • 1
  • Harvey B. Pollard
    • 2
  • Eduardo Rojas
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratorio de Fisiología Celular, Facultad de Ciencias y Facultad de MedicinaUniversidad de ChileViña del MarChile
  2. 2.Laboratory of Cell Biology and Genetics, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney DiseasesNational Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA

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