Ion activities and potassium uptake mechanisms of glial cells in guinea-pig olfactory cortex slices

J Physiol. 1987 Jan;382:159-74. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1987.sp016361.


1. Double-barrelled ion-sensitive micro-electrodes were used to measure changes in the intracellular activities of K+, Na+ and Cl- (aiK, aiNa, aiCl) in glial cells of slices from guinea-pig olfactory cortex during repetitive stimulation of the lateral olfactory tract. 2. Base-line levels of aiK, aiNa and aiCl were about 66, 25 and 6 mM, respectively, for cells with resting potentials higher than -80 mV. During stimulation, intraglial aiK and aiCl increased, whereas aiNa decreased. Within about 2 min after stimulation the ion activities returned to their base-line levels. 3. The Cl- equilibrium potential was found to be close to the membrane potential (Em). There was also a strong correlation between changes of Em and aiCl. These observations indicate a high Cl- conductance of the glial cell membrane. 4. In the presence of Ba2+, the usual depolarizing response of the glial cells to a rise of the extracellular K+ activity (aeK) reversed into a membrane hyperpolarization. Furthermore, Ba2+ strongly reduced the stimulus-related rise of intraglial aiK. An additional application of ouabain blocked both the membrane hyperpolarization as well as the remaining rise of aiK. 5. In conclusion, our data show that glial cells in guinea-pig olfactory cortex slices possess at least two mechanisms of K+ accumulation. One mechanism is sensitive to the K+ channel blocker Ba2+ and might be a passive KCl influx. The other appears to be the electrogenic Na+/K+ pump, which can be activated by excess extracellular K+.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Barium / pharmacology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Chlorides / physiology
  • Guinea Pigs
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Ion Channels / physiology*
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Neuroglia / physiology*
  • Ouabain / pharmacology
  • Potassium / physiology*
  • Sodium / physiology


  • Chlorides
  • Ion Channels
  • Barium
  • Ouabain
  • Sodium
  • Potassium