PubMed 12451128

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Title: Roles of tetrodotoxin (TTX)-sensitive Na+ current, TTX-resistant Na+ current, and Ca2+ current in the action potentials of nociceptive sensory neurons.

Authors: Nathaniel T Blair, Bruce P Bean

Journal, date & volume: J. Neurosci., 2002 Dec 1 , 22, 10277-90

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Nociceptive sensory neurons are unusual in expressing voltage-gated inward currents carried by sodium channels resistant to block by tetrodotoxin (TTX) as well as currents carried by conventional TTX-sensitive sodium channels and voltage-dependent calcium channels. To examine how currents carried by each of these helps to shape the action potential in small-diameter dorsal root ganglion cell bodies, we voltage clamped cells by using the action potential recorded from each cell as the command voltage. Using intracellular solutions of physiological ionic composition, we isolated individual components of current flowing during the action potential with the use of channel blockers (TTX for TTX-sensitive sodium currents and a mixture of calcium channel blockers for calcium currents) and ionic substitution (TTX-resistant current measured by the replacement of extracellular sodium by N-methyl-D-glucamine in the presence of TTX, with correction for altered driving force). TTX-resistant sodium channels activated quickly enough to carry the largest inward charge during the upstroke of the nociceptor action potential (approximately 58%), with TTX-sensitive sodium channels also contributing significantly ( approximately 40%), especially near threshold, and high voltage-activated calcium currents much less (approximately 2%). Action potentials had a prominent shoulder during the falling phase, characteristic of nociceptive neurons. TTX-resistant sodium channels did not inactivate completely during the action potential and carried the majority (58%) of inward current flowing during the shoulder, with high voltage-activated calcium current also contributing significantly (39%). Unlike calcium current, TTX-resistant sodium current is not accompanied by opposing calcium-activated potassium current and may provide an effective mechanism by which the duration of action potentials (and consequently calcium entry) can be regulated.