Charybdotoxin and iberiotoxin but not apamin abolish the slow after-hyperpolarization in myenteric plexus neurons
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Myenteric neurons of guinea-pig ileum were studied with intracellular microelectrodes. The specific toxins charybdotoxin, iberiotoxin and apamin were used to characterize the prolonged after-hyperpolarizations of AH neurons in this preparation. Charybdotoxin and iberiotoxin blocked prolonged after-hyperpolarizations in 23 of 24 AH neurons, but apamin had no effect on 5 of 5 AH neurons. Abolition of the after-hyperpolarizations was accompanied by depolarization and increases in input resistances of those AH neurons affected, but the shapes of action potentials were unchanged. The excitability of the AH neurons was enhanced as shown by an increase in the number of action potentials evoked by a 500-ms depolarizing current pulse or by a train of 15-ms depolarizing current pulses (10Hz). The other class of myenteric neurons, S neurons, was also investigated. The 19 S neurons studied fired action potentials only at the start of a 500 ms depolarization, but the toxins had no effect on this behaviour or on their other properties. Intracellular injection of Neurobiotin into the neurons studied and subsequent immunohistochemical staining to localise the calcium-binding protein, calretinin, indicated that all major classes of S neurons were included in the sample. Thus, the prolonged after-hyperpolarizations in AH neurons may be due to opening of a large-conductance (BK) calcium-dependent potassium channel, but similar channels play little or no role in regulation of the excitability of S neurons.
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