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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Secretory responses of intact glomus cells in thin slices of rat carotid body to hypoxia and tetraethylammonium.

We have developed a thin-slice preparation of whole rat carotid body that allows us to perform patch-clamp recording of membrane ionic currents and to monitor catecholamine secretion by amperometry in single glomus cells under direct visual control. In normoxic conditions (P(O(2)) approximately 140 mmHg; 1 mmHg = 133 Pa), most glomus cells did not have measurable secretory activity, but exposure to hypoxia (P(O(2)) approximately 20 mmHg) elicited the appearance of a large number of spike-like exocytotic events. This neurosecretory response to hypoxia was fully reversible and required extracellular Ca(2+) influx. The average charge of single quantal events was 46 +/- 25 fC (n = 218), which yields an estimate of approximately 140,000 catecholamine molecules per vesicle. Addition of tetraethylammonium (TEA; 2-5 mM) to the extracellular solution induced in most (>95%) cells tested (n = 32) a secretory response similar to that elicited by low P(O(2)). Cells nonresponsive to hypoxia but activated by exposure to high external K(+) were also stimulated by TEA. A secretory response similar to the responses to hypoxia and TEA was also observed after treatment of the cells with iberiotoxin to block selectively Ca(2+)- and voltage-activated maxi-K(+) channels. Our data further show that membrane ion channels are critically involved in sensory transduction in the carotid body. We also show that in intact glomus cells inhibition of voltage-dependent K(+) channels can contribute to initiation of the secretory response to low P(O(2)).[1]


  1. Secretory responses of intact glomus cells in thin slices of rat carotid body to hypoxia and tetraethylammonium. Pardal, R., Ludewig, U., Garcia-Hirschfeld, J., Lopez-Barneo, J. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (2000) [Pubmed]
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