Contribution of potassium channels to the discharge properties of rat aortic baroreceptor sensory endings

Patrick J. Reynolds, Mingyong Yang, Michael C. Andresen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The expression of several types of membrane potassium channel at the cell body and central synaptic terminal of the rat aortic arch baroreceptor has been reported by others. It is not known if any of the same channels function at the peripheral sensory terminal of these afferent nerves. Our study examined the effect of three potassium channel blocking agents on the pressure-evoked discharge of such baroreceptors. Thirty-one single unit, regularly discharging baroreceptors were studied using an in vitro aortic arch-aortic nerve preparation. Discharge thresholds and suprathreshold pressure sensitivities were derived from responses of receptors to slowly rising ramps of pressure applied to the aortic arch. Vessel diameter was recorded along with receptor discharge to assess any drug-induced changes in vascular smooth muscle. The blocking agents tested have a range of specificities for classes of potassium channels: tetraethylamminium (TEA), 4-aminopyridine (4-AP) and charybdotoxin. TEA depressed the pressure sensitivity of all baroreceptors tested (n = 3) in a dose-dependent manner. Baroreceptor responses to 4-AP were complex (n = 22) and varied widely across individuals. Three were unaffected by 5 mM 4-AP. Most baroreceptors were generally depressed by 4-AP. Some of the 4-AP effects appeared to be related to actions at vascular smooth muscle. None of the baroreceptors tested (n = 6) was affected by charybdotoxin. The results of selective potassium channel blockade are generally consistent with what would be expected from a sustained depolarization of baroreceptor endings such as has been reported with raising extracellalar potassium and probably includes effects of inactivation of other voltage-dependent channels. One explanation for the variability of the responses to potassium channel antagonist across baroreceptors is that potassium channels may be heterogeneously expressed at rat baroreceptor sensory nerve endings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-122
Number of pages8
JournalBrain research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 28 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • 4-Aminopyridine
  • Charybdotoxin
  • Pressoreceptor
  • Tetraethylammonium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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