Neural control of the heart: developmental changes in ionic conductances in mammalian intrinsic cardiac neurons
The expression and properties of ionic channels were investigated in dissociated neurons from neonatal and adult rat intracardiac ganglia. Changes in the hyperpolarization-activated and ATP-sensitive K+ conductances during postnatal development and their role in neuronal excitability were examined. The hyperpolarization-activated nonselective cation current, Ih, was observed in all neurons studied and displayed slow time-dependent rectification. An inwardly rectifying K+ current, IK(IR), was present in a population of neurons from adult but not neonatal rats and was sensitive to block by extracellular Ba2+. Using the perforated-patch recording configuration, an ATP-sensitive K+ (KATP) conductance was identified in ≥50% of intracardiac neurons from adult rats. Levcromakalim evoked membrane hyperpolarization, which was inhibited by the sulphonylurea drugs, glibenclamide and tolbutamide. Exposure to hypoxic conditions also activated a membrane current similar to that induced by levcromakalim and was inhibited by glibenclamide. Changes in the complement of ion channels during postnatal development may underlie observed differences in the function of intracardiac ganglion neurons during maturation. Furthermore, activation of hyperpolarization-activated and KATP channels in mammalian intracardiac neurons may play a role in neural regulation of the mature heart and cardiac function during ischaemia-reperfusion.