The nature of the presynaptic effects of (+)-tubocurarine at the mouse neuromuscular junction

J Physiol. 1988 Sep;403:425-37. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1988.sp017257.


1. The effects of (+)-tubocurarine (TC) on tetanic run-down and quantum content of end-plate potentials (EPPs) were investigated in cut-fibre preparations of mouse diaphragm. 2. (+)-Tubocurarine, 0.15 microM, halved the amplitude of spontaneous miniature EPPs (MEPPs) and steepened the tetanic run-down of EPPs evoked at 10 Hz by increasing the quantum content of the first EPP of the train while having no effect on quantum content of plateau EPPs. With stimulation at 1 Hz, there was little run-down and the quantum content of all EPPs was increased by TC. 3. The use of binomial statistics to analyse release indicated that after TC the increase in the quantum content of the first EPP in the train at 10 Hz was due to an increase in n and that during the run-down there was a decrease in p so that plateau EPP quantum content at 10 Hz was not different from control. 4. To elucidate a possible role of cholinoreceptors in the presynaptic effects of TC, studies were made on the effects of pancuronium or of alpha-bungarotoxin (BTX), with concentrations and exposure times where they had postsynaptic effects equal to 0.15 microM-TC. The run-down of EPPs was unaffected by BTX, while pancuronium steepened it to a lesser extent than TC. 5. The anticholinesterase, ecothiopate, decreased the quantum content of plateau EPPs only at high frequencies of stimulation (50 Hz) and did not affect the presynaptic effects of TC at 10 Hz. 6. At concentrations which reduced MEPP amplitude, atropine (10 microM) or hexamethonium (50 microM) had no effect on EPP run-down. 7. These results indicate that TC could have presynaptic effects via a presynaptic acetylcholine receptor, but that such a receptor may not have the same binding specificities as the postsynaptic receptor.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / metabolism
  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Bungarotoxins / pharmacology
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Echothiophate Iodide / pharmacology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Motor Endplate / drug effects
  • Neuromuscular Junction / drug effects*
  • Pancuronium / pharmacology
  • Receptors, Cholinergic / drug effects
  • Tubocurarine / pharmacology*


  • Bungarotoxins
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors
  • Receptors, Cholinergic
  • Echothiophate Iodide
  • Pancuronium
  • Acetylcholine
  • Tubocurarine