Outward membrane currents activated in the plateau range of potentials in cardiac Purkinje fibres

J Physiol. 1969 Jan;200(1):205-31. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1969.sp008689.


1. The membrane currents in Purkinje fibres under voltage clamp conditions have been investigated in the range of potentials at which the action potential plateau occurs. The results show that in this range slow outward current changes occur which are quite distinct from the potassium current activated in the pace-maker range of potentials.2. The time course of current change in response to step voltage changes is non-exponential. At each potential the current changes may be analysed in terms of the sum of two exponential changes and this property has been used to dissect the currents into two components, i(x1) and i(x2), both of which have been found to obey kinetics of the Hodgkin-Huxley type.3. The first component, i(x1), is activated with a time constant of about 0.5 sec at the plateau. At more positive and more negative potentials the time constants are shorter. The steady-state degree of activation varies from 0 at about -50 mV to about 1 at +20 mV. The instantaneous current-voltage relation is an inward-going rectifier but shows no detectable negative slope. In normal Tyrode solution ([K](0) = 4 mM) the reversal potential is about -85 mV.4. The second component, i(x2), is activated extremely slowly and the time constant at the plateau is about 4 sec. The steady-state activation curve varies from 0 at about -40 mV to 1 at about +20 mV. The instantaneous current-voltage relation is nearly linear. The reversal potential occurs between -50 and -20 mV in different preparations.5. It is suggested that these currents are carried largely by K ions, but that some other ions (e.g. Na) also contribute so that the reversal potentials are positive to E(K).6. The relation of these results to previous work on delayed rectification in cardiac muscle is discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Electrophysiology
  • Heart Conduction System / physiology*
  • Kinetics
  • Membrane Potentials*
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Time Factors


  • Sodium
  • Potassium