Characterization of acid-sensitive ion channels in freshly isolated rat brain neurons

Neuroscience. 2002;110(4):723-30. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4522(01)00582-6.


Transient proton-activated currents induced by rapid shifts of the extracellular pH from 7.4 to < or =6.8 were recorded in different neurons freshly isolated from rat brain (hypoglossal motoneurons, cerebellar Purkinje cells, striatal giant cholinergic interneurons, hippocampal interneurons, CA1 pyramidal neurons and cortical pyramidal neurons) using whole-cell patch clamp technique. Responses of hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons were weak (100-300 pA) in contrast to other types of neurons (1-3 nA). Sensitivity of neurons to rapid acidification varied from pH(50) 6.4 in hypoglossal motoneurons to 4.9 in hippocampal interneurons. Proton-activated currents were blocked by amiloride (IC(50) varied from 3.6 to 9.5 microM). Reversal potential of the currents was close to E(Na), indicating that the currents are carried by sodium ions. The data obtained suggest that the proton-activated currents in the neurons studied are mediated by acid-sensitive ion channels. Strong acidification (pH<4) induced biphasic responses in all neuron types: the transient current was followed by a pronounced sustained one. Sustained current was not blocked by amiloride and exhibited low selectivity for sodium and cesium ions. Slow acidification from pH 7.4 to 6.5 did not induce detectable whole-cell currents. At pH 6.5, most of the channels are desensitized and responses to fast pH shifts from this initial level are decreased at least 10 times. This suggests that slow acidification which is well known to accompany some pathological states should rather desensitize than activate acid-sensitive ion channels and depress their function. Our results provide evidence for a widespread and neuron-specific distribution of acid-sensitive ion channels in the brain. The large amplitudes and transient character of currents mediated by these channels suggest that they could contribute to fast neuronal signaling processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acids / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Extracellular Space / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Interneurons / metabolism
  • Ion Channels / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Motor Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Protons*
  • Purkinje Cells / metabolism
  • Pyramidal Cells / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Acids
  • Ion Channels
  • Protons