Maternal diabetes increases large conductance Ca2+-activated K+ outward currents that alter action potential properties but do not contribute to attenuated excitability of parasympathetic cardiac motoneurons in the nucleus ambiguus of neonatal mice

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Previously, we demonstrated that maternal diabetes reduced the excitability and increased small-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ (SK) currents of parasympathetic cardiac motoneurons (PCMNs) in the nucleus ambiguus (NA). In addition, blockade of SK channels with apamin completely abolished this reduction. In the present study, we examined whether maternal diabetes affects large-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ (BK) channels and whether BK channels contribute to the attenuation of PCMN excitability observed in neonates of diabetic mothers. Neonatal mice from OVE26 diabetic mothers (NMDM) and normal FVB mothers (control) were used. The pericardial sac of neonatal mice at postnatal days 7–9 was injected with the tracer X-rhodamine-5 (and 6)-isothiocyanate 2 days prior to the experiment to retrogradely label PCMNs in the NA. Whole cell current- and voltage-clamps were used to measure spike frequency, action potential (AP) repolarization (half-width), afterhyperpolarization potential (AHP), transient outward currents, and afterhyperpolarization currents (IAHP). In whole cell voltage clamp mode, we confirmed that maternal diabetes increased transient outward currents and IAHP compared with normal cells. Using BK channel blockers charybdotoxin (CTx) and paxilline, we found that maternal diabetes increased CTx- and paxilline-sensitive transient outward currents but did not change CTx- and paxilline-sensitive IAHP. In whole cell current-clamp mode, we confirmed that maternal diabetes increased AP half-width and AHP, and reduced excitability of PCMNs. Furthermore, we found that after blockade of BK channels with CTx or paxilline, maternal diabetes induced a greater increase of AP half-width but similarly decreased fast AHP without affecting medium AHP. Finally, blockade of BK channels decreased spike frequency in response to current injection in both control and NMDM without reducing the difference of spike frequency between the two groups. Therefore, we conclude that although BK transient outward currents, which may alter AP repolarization, are increased in NMDM, BK channels do not directly contribute to maternal diabetes-induced attenuation of PCMN excitability. In contrast, based on evidence from our previous and present studies, reduction of PCMN excitability in neonates of diabetic mothers is largely dependent on altered SK current associated with maternal diabetes.

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© 2011 American Physiological Society. Publisher's version of record: https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpregu.00470.2010

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American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology