Agonist-independent effects of muscarinic antagonists on Ca2+ and K+ currents in frog and rat cardiac cells

J Physiol. 1993 Feb;461:743-65. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1993.sp019539.


1. The whole-cell patch clamp and intracellular perfusion techniques were used for studying the effects of atropine and other muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (mAChR) antagonists on the L-type calcium currents (ICa) in frog and rat ventricular myocytes, and on the mAChR-activated K+ current (IK(ACh)) in frog atrial myocytes. 2. In frog ventricular myocytes, atropine (0.1 nM to 1 microM) reversed the inhibitory effect of acetylcholine (ACh, 1 nM) on ICa previously stimulated by isoprenaline (Iso, 2 microM), a beta-adrenergic agonist. However, in the concomitant presence of Iso, ACh and atropine, ICa was > 50% larger than in Iso alone. 3. The effects of atropine were then examined in the absence of mAChR agonists. After a preliminary stimulation of ICa with Iso (0.1 or 2 microM), atropine induced a dose-dependent stimulation of ICa. EC50 (i.e. the concentration of atropine at which the response was 50% of the maximum) and Emax (i.e. maximal stimulation of ICa expressed as percentage increase in ICa with respect to the level in Iso alone) were respectively 0.6 nM and 35%. The stimulatory effect of atropine on ICa was not voltage dependent. 4. Atropine (1 microM) had no effect on frog ICa (i) under basal conditions, (ii) upon stimulation of ICa by the dihydropyridine agonist (-)-Bay K 8644 (1 microM), or (iii) when ICa had been previously stimulated by intracellular perfusion with cyclic AMP (3 microM). However, atropine increased ICa after a stimulation by forskolin (0.3 microM). Therefore, an increased adenylyl cyclase activity was required for atropine to produce its stimulatory effect on ICa. 5. The order of potency of mAChR antagonists to reverse the inhibitory effect of ACh on Iso elevated ICa in frog ventricle was atropine > AF-DX 116 >> pirenzepine. In the absence of ACh, mAChR antagonists produced their stimulatory effect on Iso elevated ICa with the same order of potency. 6. Intracellular substitution of Gpp(NH)p (5'-guanylylimidiphosphate) for GTP (420 microM) induced a strong inhibition of frog ICa in the presence of Iso (2 microM). This effect was attributed earlier to the spontaneous and irreversible activation of the GTP-binding regulatory protein (G protein), Gi, responsible for adenylyl cyclase inhibition. Atropine (1 microM) slowed down by a factor of 2 the rate of ICa inhibition induced by Gpp(NH)p. 7. In frog atrial myocytes, intracellular perfusion with 1 mM Gpp(NH)p induces spontaneous activation of IK(ACh). This effect was attributed earlier to the spontaneous and irreversible activation of the G protein, GK.(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

  • Adenylyl Cyclases / physiology
  • Animals
  • Atropine / pharmacology
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Colforsin / pharmacology
  • Electrophysiology
  • Guanylyl Imidodiphosphate / physiology
  • Heart Ventricles / metabolism
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Muscarinic Antagonists*
  • Myocardium / metabolism*
  • Potassium / metabolism*
  • Rana esculenta
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, Muscarinic / physiology


  • Muscarinic Antagonists
  • Receptors, Muscarinic
  • Colforsin
  • Guanylyl Imidodiphosphate
  • Atropine
  • Adenylyl Cyclases
  • Potassium
  • Calcium