1. The effects of brief exposures to hypoxia on the membrane currents of isolated hippocampal CA1 neurons were studied with the use of the whole-cell variation of the patch-clamp technique. Neurons were acutely dissociated from immature (day 2-7) and mature (day 21-43) rats. 2. In the current-clamp mode, Na-cyanide (CN) hyperpolarized both mature and immature neurons. In the voltage-clamp mode, CN decreased the magnitude of the hyperpolarizing holding current in both age groups. 3. CN did not have a consistent effect on the voltage-dependent calcium and potassium currents of immature and mature CA1 neurons but decreased the voltage-dependent inward current of neurons at both ages. This effect was age dependent: the inward current of immature neurons decreased by only 10%, but that of mature neurons decreased by ~40%. 4. The decrease in the magnitude of the hyperpolarizing holding current and the depression of the voltage-dependent inward current of mature neurons were observed during brief exposure to N2 (PO2 = 0), indicating that the electroresponses observed with CN were the result of blocking oxidative respiration. 5. The hypoxia-sensitive inward current was blocked by tetrodotoxin (TTX) but was not blocked by cadmium or cesium + tetraethylammonium (TEA). Therefore this current was identified as the voltage-dependent, fast-inactivating sodium current (I(Na)). 6. The isolated sodium current was studied with the use of cadmium to block calcium and TEA + cesium to block potassium currents. In mature neurons, CN left-shifted the steady-state inactivation curve for I(Na) and slowed the deactivation kinetics of I(Na). CN caused little or no change in I(Na) activation, fast inactivation, recovery from inactivation, or current-voltage (I-V) relationship. 7. We conclude that brief exposures to CN and hypoxia alter the intrinsic excitability of CA1 neurons by at least two mechanisms: 1) alterations in leakage currents and 2) alterations in the fast Na+ conductance that are maturationally dependent. We propose that the alterations in the Na+ conductance may play an adaptive role by reducing O2 demands and thus possibly delaying neuronal injury.
ASJC Scopus subject areas