Averaged ensemble Ba currents were recorded from tissue cultured embryonic chick dorsal root ganglion (d.r.g.) cells using the cell‐attached patch‐clamp technique. Noradrenaline (NA) applied to extrapatch membrane had no clear consistent effect on drug‐free patch currents. This finding supports a previous suggestion that second messengers may not be involved in NA‐mediated decreases in Ca currents in sensory neurones (Forscher & Oxford, 1985). Cell‐attached patch currents sometimes increased slowly after extrapatch application of NA, but were not reversibly decreased by drug treatment. Large patch currents were used to trigger cellular action potentials. NA reversibly decreased action potential duration as reflected in extracellularly recorded patch action currents. Simultaneously recorded inward patch currents were not affected. D.r.g. cell adenylate cyclase activity was assayed. NA did not affect intracellular cyclic AMP levels at concentrations which cause 30‐70% decreases in gCa in dialysed cells (Forscher & Oxford, 1985). Treatment with forskolin (50 microM) or isoprenaline (10 microM) resulted in 60‐ and 2‐fold increases respectively in adenylate cyclase activity over basal levels. These results suggest that NA decreases Ca currents by direct NA interactions with the Ca channel or a molecule tightly coupled to channel function in d.r.g. cells.
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