Functional properties of spontaneous EPSCs and non-NMDA receptors in rod amacrine (AII) cells in the rat retina

J Physiol. 2003 Jun 15;549(Pt 3):759-74. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2003.039982. Epub 2003 Apr 17.


The functional properties of spontaneous, glutamatergic EPSCs and non-NMDA receptors in AII amacrine cells were studied in whole cells and patches from slices of the rat retina using single and dual electrode voltage clamp recording. Pharmacological analysis verified that the EPSCs (Erev approximately 0 mV) were mediated exclusively by AMPA-type receptors. EPSCs displayed a wide range of waveforms, ranging from simple monophasic events to more complex multiphasic events. Amplitude distributions of EPSCs were moderately skewed towards larger amplitudes (modal peak 23 pA). Interevent interval histograms were best fitted with a double exponential function. Monophasic, monotonically rising EPSCs displayed very fast kinetics with an average 10-90 % rise time of approximately 340 micro s and a decay phase well fitted by a single exponential (taudecay approximately 760 micro s). The specific AMPA receptor modulator cyclothiazide markedly slowed the decay phase of spontaneous EPSCs (taudecay approximately 3 ms). An increase in temperature decreased both 10-90 % rise time and taudecay with Q10 values of 1.3 and 1.5, respectively. The decay kinetics were slower at positive membrane potentials compared to negative membrane potentials (205 mV/e-fold change in taudecay). Step depolarization of individual presynaptic rod bipolar cells or OFF-cone bipolar cells evoked transient, CNQX-sensitive responses in AII amacrine cells with average peak amplitudes of approximately 330 pA. Ultrafast application of brief (approximately 1 ms) or long (approximately 500 ms) pulses of glutamate to outside-out patches evoked strongly desensitizing responses with very fast deactivation and desensitization kinetics, well fitted by single (taudecay approximately 1.1 ms) and double exponential (tau1 approximately 3.5 ms; tau2 approximately 21 ms) functions, respectively. Double-pulse experiments indicated fast recovery from desensitization (tau approximately 12.4 ms). Our results indicate that spontaneous, AMPA receptor-mediated EPSCs in AII amacrine cells have very fast, voltage-dependent kinetics that can be well accounted for by the kinetic properties of the AMPA receptors themselves

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 6-Cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione / pharmacology
  • Algorithms
  • Amacrine Cells / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Benzodiazepines / pharmacology
  • Electrophysiology
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists / pharmacology
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology*
  • Glutamates / pharmacology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Kinetics
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Piperazines / pharmacology
  • Presynaptic Terminals / drug effects
  • Presynaptic Terminals / physiology
  • Rats
  • Receptors, AMPA / drug effects
  • Receptors, AMPA / physiology
  • Receptors, Glutamate / physiology*
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / cytology
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Tetrodotoxin / pharmacology


  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists
  • Glutamates
  • Piperazines
  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • Benzodiazepines
  • 4-methylglutamic acid
  • GYKI 53655
  • Tetrodotoxin
  • 6-Cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione
  • 3-(2-carboxypiperazin-4-yl)propyl-1-phosphonic acid