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The patch-clamp technique was used to study whole-cell currents of acutely dissociated rat substantia nigra (SN) neurones. In perforated-patch current-clamp recordings, inhibition of mitochondrial metabolism by rotenone (5 microM) produced a hyperpolarisation and inhibited electrical activity. These effects were reversed by the sulphonylureas tolbutamide (0.5 mM) or glibenclamide (0.5 microM). Under voltage-clamp conditions, rotenone induced a time- and voltage-independent K+ current which was selectively blocked by sulphonylureas. The glibenclamide-sensitive current reversed at -81.7 +/- 2.7 mV (n = 5) and showed marked inward rectification. Intracellular dialysis with 0.3 mM adenosine 5'-triphosphate (ATP), but not 2 mM or 5 mM ATP, in standard whole-cell recordings also resulted in activation of a sulphonylurea-sensitive K+ current with similar properties (reversal potential, -81.9 +/- 2.5 mV, n = 5). The close similarity in the properties of the ATP-sensitive K+ current observed in whole-cell recordings and the K+ current activated by metabolic inhibition in perforated-patch recordings suggest that they both result from activation of the same type of ATP-sensitive K+ channel. Sulphonylureas had no effect on electrical activity or membrane currents in the absence of rotenone in perforated-patch recordings, or in cells dialysed with 5 mM ATP, indicating that in SN neurones these drugs are selective for the ATP-sensitive K+ current.

Original publication




Journal article


Pflugers Arch

Publication Date





44 - 54


Action Potentials, Adenosine Triphosphate, Animals, Biological Transport, Catecholamines, Cell Separation, Glyburide, In Vitro Techniques, Male, Mitochondria, Neurons, Patch-Clamp Techniques, Potassium, Potassium Channel Blockers, Potassium Channels, Rats, Rats, Inbred Strains, Rotenone, Substantia Nigra, Sulfonylurea Compounds