Methods for stable recording of short-circuit current in a Na+-transporting epithelium

Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2011 Jul;301(1):C162-70. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00459.2010. Epub 2011 Mar 30.


Epithelial Na(+) transport as measured by a variety of techniques, including the short-circuit current technique, has been described to exhibit a "rundown" phenomenon. This phenomenon manifests as time-dependent decrease of current and resistance and precludes the ability to carry out prolonged experiments aimed at examining the regulation of this transport. We developed methods for prolonged stable recordings of epithelial Na(+) transport using modifications of the short-circuit current technique and commercial Ussing-type chambers. We utilize the polarized MDCK cell line expressing the epithelial Na(+) channel (ENaC) to describe these methods. Briefly, existing commercial chambers were modified to allow continuous flow of Ringer solution and precise control of such flow. Chamber manifolds and associated plumbing were modified to allow precise temperature clamp preventing temperature oscillations. Recording electrodes were modified to eliminate the use of KCl and prevent membrane depolarization from KCl leakage. Solutions utilized standard bicarbonate-based buffers, but all gasses were prehydrated to clamp buffer osmolarity. We demonstrate that these modifications result in measurements of current and resistance that are stable for at least 2 h. We further demonstrate that drifts in osmolarity similar to those obtained before prior to our modifications can lead to a decrease of current and resistance similar to those attributed to rundown.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Amiloride
  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Dogs
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Epithelium / metabolism*
  • Ion Pumps
  • Kidney
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Osmotic Pressure
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques / methods*
  • Sodium / metabolism*
  • Sodium Channels / physiology*


  • Ion Pumps
  • Sodium Channels
  • Amiloride
  • Sodium