The role of bicarbonate in GABAA receptor-mediated IPSPs of rat neocortical neurones

J Physiol. 1993 May;464:273-89. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1993.sp019634.


1. The ionic mechanism underlying the fast, GABAA receptor-mediated inhibitory postsynaptic potential (IPSPA) was examined in rat neocortical neurones using intracellular recording techniques. Synaptic responses were evoked by orthodromic stimulation applied to the subcortical white matter or to the pial surface. All experiments were carried out at a constant extracellular Cl- concentration. 2. The resting membrane potential was -76.2 +/- 1.0 mV (mean +/- S.E.M., n = 32) and in most cells IPSPA was depolarizing. The reversal potential of IPSPA (EIPSP-A) was -70.2 +/- 0.9 mV (n = 32) and that of a more slowly developing hyperpolarizing response (IPSPB) was -91.4 +/- 1.3 mV (n = 28). 3. An examination of the temporal relationships between excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) and IPSPAs in different cells suggested that, despite partial overlap of these responses, EPSPs had little influence on the measured values of EIPSP-A. 4. Application of 20 mM trimethylamine (TriMA), a membrane-permeant weak base which is expected to produce a rise in pHi (and hence in intracellular HCO3-), induced a reversible positive shift in EIPSP-A of up to +9.0 mV (mean + 4.2 mV) at an extracellular pH (pHo) of 7.4. In some experiments, the shift in reversal potential was associated with a change in the polarity of IPSPA from hyperpolarizing to depolarizing. 5. Application of 20 mM lactate (a membrane-permeant weak acid which is expected to produce a fall in pHi and hence in intracellular HCO3-) at pHo 7.0 produced a hyperpolarizing shift in EIPS-A of up to -7.5 mV (mean -5.6 mV). In some experiments, exposure to lactate changed the polarity of IPSPA from depolarizing to hyperpolarizing. 6. Changes in pHo from 7.4 to 7.0 reduced the effect of TriMA and augmented that of lactate on EIPSP-A, as could be expected on the basis of the pHo-dependent change in the fraction of membrane permeable non-charged weak base or acid. 7. Under control conditions, a change in pHo from 7.4 to 7.0 produced a slight positive shift (< +2 mV) in EIPSP-A. In the presence of TriMA, a similar change in pHo gave rise to a negative shift (-1.8 to -2.7 mV). 8. The results obtained indicate that HCO3- ions contribute significantly to the IPSPA, thereby making EIPSP-A more positive than the Cl- equilibrium potential.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bicarbonates / metabolism*
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Lactates / pharmacology
  • Lactic Acid
  • Methylamines / pharmacology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Receptors, GABA / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects


  • Bicarbonates
  • Lactates
  • Methylamines
  • Receptors, GABA
  • Lactic Acid
  • trimethylamine