Substance P preferentially inhibits large conductance nicotinic ACh receptor channels in rat intracardiac ganglion neurons
The effects of substance P (SP) on nicotinic acetylcholine (ACh)-evoked currents were investigated in parasympathetic neurons dissociated from neonatal rat intracardiac ganglia using standard whole cell, perforated patch, and outside-out recording configurations of the patch-clamp technique. Focal application of SP onto the soma reversibly decreased the peak amplitude of the ACh-evoked current with half-maximal inhibition occurring at 45 μM and complete block at 300 μM SP. Whole cell current-voltage (I-V) relationships obtained in the absence and presence of SP indicate that the block of ACh-evoked currents by SP is voltage independent. The rate of decay of ACh-evoked currents was increased sixfold in the presence of SP (100 μM), suggesting that SP may increase the rate of receptor desensitization. SP-induced inhibition of ACh-evoked currents was observed following cell dialysis and in the presence of either 1 mM 8-Br-cAMP, a membrane-permeant cAMP analogue, 5 μM H-7, a protein kinase C inhibitor, or 2 mM intracellular AMP-PNP, a nonhydrolyzable ATP analogue. These data suggest that a diffusible cytosolic second messenger is unlikely to mediate SP inhibition of neuronal nicotinic ACh receptor (nAChR) channels. Activation of nAChR channels in outside-out membrane patches by either ACh (3 μM) or cytisine (3 μM) indicates the presence of at least three distinct conductances (20, 35, and 47 pS) in rat intracardiac neurons. In the presence of 3 μM SP, the large conductance nAChR channels are preferentially inhibited. The open probabilities of the large conductance classes activated by either ACh or cytisine were reversibly decreased by 10- to 30-fold in the presence of SP. The single-channel conductances were unchanged, and mean apparent channel open times for the large conductance nAChR channels only were slightly decreased by SP. Given that individual parasympathetic neurons of rat intracardiac ganglia express a heterogeneous population of nAChR subunits represented by the different conductance levels, SP appears to preferentially inhibit those combinations of nAChR subunits that form the large conductance nAChR channels. Since ACh is the principal neurotransmitter of extrinsic (vagal) innervation of the mammalian heart, SP may play an important role in modulating autonomic control of the heart.