Evidence for role of acid-sensing ion channels in nucleus ambiguus neurons: essential differences in anesthetized versus awake rats.

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This article has been peer reviewed. It was published in: Journal of Comparative Physiology B: Biochemical, Systemic, and Environmental Physiology.

Volume 184, Issue 6, August 2014, Pages 753-761.

The published version is available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4111771/

Copyright © 2014 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


Acid-sensing ion channels (ASIC) are widely expressed in several brain regions including medulla; their role in physiology and pathophysiology is incompletely understood. We examined the effect of acidic pH of 6.2 on the medullary neurons involved in parasympathetic cardiac control. Our results indicate that retrogradely labeled cardiac vagal neurons of nucleus ambiguus are depolarized by acidic pH. In addition, acidic saline of pH 6.2 increases cytosolic Ca(2+) concentration by promoting Ca(2+) influx in nucleus ambiguus neurons. In vivo studies indicate that microinjection of acidic artificial cerebrospinal fluid (pH 6.2) into the nucleus ambiguus decreases the heart rate in conscious rats, whereas it has no effect in anesthetized animals. Pretreatment with either amiloride or benzamil, two widely used ASIC blockers, abolishes both the in vitro and in vivo effects elicited by pH 6.2. Our findings support a critical role for ASIC in modulation of cardiac vagal tone and provide a potential mechanism for acidosis-induced bradycardia, while identifying important differences in the response to acidic pH between anesthetized and conscious rats.

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