Properties of the hyperpolarizing-activated current (if) in cells isolated from the rabbit sino-atrial node

J Physiol. 1986 Aug:377:61-88. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1986.sp016177.


Individual cells were isolated from the sino-atrial node area of the rabbit heart using an enzyme medium containing collagenase and elastase. After enzymatic treatment the cells were placed in normal Tyrode solution, where beating resumed in a fraction of them. Isolated cells were studied in the whole cell configuration. Action potentials as well as membrane currents under voltage-clamp conditions were similar to those in multicellular preparations. Pulses to voltages more negative than about -50 mV caused activation of the hyperpolarizing-activated current, if. Investigation of the properties of this current was carried out under conditions that limited the influence of other current systems during voltage clamp. The if current activation range usually extended approximately from -50 to -100 mV, but varied from cell to cell. In several cases, pulsing to the region of -40 mV elicited a sizeable if. Both current activation and deactivation during voltage steps had S-shaped time courses. A high variability was however observed in the sigmoidal behaviour of if kinetics. Plots of the fully-activated current-voltage (I-V) relation in different extracellular Na and K concentrations showed that both ions carry the current if. While changes in the external Na concentration caused the current I-V relation to undergo simple shifts along the voltage axis, changes in extracellular K concentration were also associated with changes in its slope. Again, a large variability was observed in the increase of I-V slope on raising the external K concentration. The current if was strongly depressed by Cs, and the block induced by 5 mM-Cs was markedly voltage dependent. Adrenaline (1-5 microM) and noradrenaline (1 microM) increased the current if around the half-activation voltage range and accelerated its activation at more negative voltages. Often, however, drug application failed to elicit any modification of if. Current run-down was observed in nearly all cells, although at a highly variable rate. It was accelerated by raising the extracellular K concentration but did not show a marked use dependence. Both the if activation curve and the fully activated I-V relation were affected by run-down, the former being shifted to more negative values along the voltage axis and the latter being depressed with no apparent change of the if reversal potential.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Barium / pharmacology
  • Catecholamines / pharmacology
  • Cesium / pharmacology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Ion Channels / physiology*
  • Kinetics
  • Manganese / pharmacology
  • Potassium / pharmacology
  • Rabbits
  • Sinoatrial Node / physiology*
  • Sodium / pharmacology
  • Time Factors


  • Catecholamines
  • Ion Channels
  • Cesium
  • Barium
  • Manganese
  • Sodium
  • Potassium