Relative contributions of passive equilibrium and active transport to the distribution of chloride in mammalian cortical neurons

J Neurophysiol. 1988 Jul;60(1):105-24. doi: 10.1152/jn.1988.60.1.105.


1. Active and passive factors affecting the chloride gradient of cortical neurons were assessed using intracellular recordings from neurons in slices of cingulate cortex maintained in vitro. The chloride equilibrium potential (ECl-) was estimated indirectly from the reversal potentials of responses to perisomatic gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) application and the Cl(-)-dependent inhibitory postsynaptic potential (IPSP). Under control conditions the mean resting potential (Vm; -69.7 mV) was not significantly different than the mean IPSP reversal potential (EIPSP; -70.1 mV). 2. Increasing the external potassium concentration ([K+]o) from 1 to 10 mM shifted the mean EIPSP from -80.4 to -61.8 mV. The mean EIPSP was approximately equal to the mean Vm at all [K+]oS. The conditions of Donnan equilibrium are not met in [K+]o less than 10 mM. 3. Polarization of Vm up to 20 mV away from EIPSP for 4 min with maintained current injection had no significant effect on EIPSP. 4. The GABA reversal potential was maintained 37-52 mV less negative than Vm after equilibration in saline in which the external chloride concentration had been reduced from 133 to 5 mM by substitution with isethionate. Vm and input resistance were not significantly different from control values in cells recorded under these conditions. 5. We conclude that Cl- is not passively distributed in cortical neurons, perhaps due to a low resting Cl- permeability. 6. Impalement with electrodes containing 2 M KCl resulted in a rapid 10 mV depolarizing shift in EIPSP that then remained relatively constant. Intracellular iontophoresis of Cl- resulted in a further depolarizing shift of EIPSP of 5-10 mV that returned to control in less than 1 min. The time course of recovery of IPSP amplitude could be fit with a single exponential having a mean time constant of 6.9 +/- 1.5 s and was independent of the amount of Cl- injected or stimulation frequency. 7. Reductions in temperature from 37 to 32 degrees C significantly increased the mean time constant of IPSP recovery from Cl- injection to 11.1 +/- 3.3 s, corresponding to Q10 = 2.6.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport, Active
  • Cerebral Cortex / drug effects
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Chlorides / pharmacokinetics
  • Chlorides / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials / drug effects
  • Female
  • Furosemide / pharmacology
  • Guinea Pigs
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Potassium / pharmacology
  • Pregnancy
  • Temperature
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / pharmacology


  • Chlorides
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Furosemide
  • Potassium