Chemotransduction in the carotid body: K+ current modulated by PO2 in type I chemoreceptor cells

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Science  29 Jul 1988:
Vol. 241, Issue 4865, pp. 580-582
DOI: 10.1126/science.2456613


The ionic currents of carotid body type I cells and their possible involvement in the detection of oxygen tension (Po2) in arterial blood are unknown. The electrical properties of these cells were studied with the whole-cell patch clamp technique, and the hypothesis that ionic conductances can be altered by changes in PO2 was tested. The results show that type I cells have voltage-dependent sodium, calcium, and potassium channels. Sodium and calcium currents were unaffected by a decrease in PO2 from 150 to 10 millimeters of mercury, whereas, with the same experimental protocol, potassium currents were reversibly reduced by 25 to 50 percent. The effect of hypoxia was independent of internal adenosine triphosphate and calcium. Thus, ionic conductances, and particularly the O2-sensitive potassium current, play a key role in the transduction mechanism of arterial chemoreceptors.

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