A patch-clamp study of bovine chromaffin cells and of their sensitivity to acetylcholine

J Physiol. 1982 Oct;331:577-97. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1982.sp014393.


1. Bovine chromaffin cells were enzymatically isolated and kept in short term tissue culture. Their electrical properties were studied using recent advances of the patch-clamp technique (Hamill, Marty, Neher, Sakmann & Sigworth, 1981). 2. When a patch pipette was sealed tightly to a chromaffin cell ('cell-attached configuration') current wave forms due to intracellular action potentials could be observed. The frequency of the wave forms was altered by changing the pipette potential. When acetylcholine was present in the pipette solution, acetylcholine-induced single channel currents were evident in the patch recording. Action potential wave forms were then often seen to follow acetycholine-induced single channel currents. 3. In the cell-attached configuration, large single channel current events did not resemble square pulses but showed exponential relaxations with time constants of the order of 50 ms. 4. After rupture of the patch of membrane, the pipette--cell seal remained stable ('whole-cell recording', Hamill et al. 1981). Chromaffin cells were found to have a resting potential of -50 to -80 mV, and an input resistance around 5 G omega. The high cell resistance accounts for the relaxing currents evident in the cell-attached configuration. 5. In the best cases, the effective time constant of the voltage clamp in the whole-cell recording mode was 15 microseconds. Exchange of small ions such as Na+ ions between pipette and cell interior solutions was then complete within 15 s. 6. Acetylcholine-induced currents were obtained at various acetylcholine concentrations. Single acetylcholine-induced channels had a slope conductance of 44 pS between -100 and -55 mV, and a mean duration of 27 ms at -80 mV (at room temperature).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / pharmacology*
  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Adrenal Medulla / cytology
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chromaffin System / cytology
  • Chromaffin System / physiology*
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Ion Channels / drug effects
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Microelectrodes


  • Ion Channels
  • Acetylcholine