Release of Acetylcholine from a Nerve Terminal by Electric Pulses of Variable Strength and Duration

Abstract

IT has recently been shown1 that the release of acetylcholine from a motor nerve ending does not occur immediately when the action potential arrives at the terminal, but starts after a delay of about 0.5 msec at 20° C (and considerably later at lower temperatures2). To find out more about the relation between the electrical changes in the nerve ending and the subsequent secretion of the transmitter substance, it is desirable to apply graded electric pulses locally to the presynaptic terminal. This has been difficult to achieve because above a certain strength a locally applied depolarizing pulse initiates an all-or-none impulse in the terminal3. To overcome this difficulty we have used the substance tetrodotoxin which is known to abolish impulses in nerve and muscle fibres without blocking the depolarizing action of acetylcholine on the end-plate4. Quite recently, Elmqvist and Feldman5 showed that the spontaneous miniature end-plate potentials (m.e.p.p.'s)—which are indicative of an intermittent spontaneous secretion of packets of acetylcholine from the terminals6—are not affected by tetrodo-toxin, and that their frequency can be raised, much as in a normal preparation, by increasing the external potassium concentration. Thus, tetrodo-toxin has the remarkable property, unlike other blocking agents such as curare or procaine, of paralysing the nerve and muscle fibre while leaving the special properties of the neuromuscular junction unimpaired.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1

    Katz, B., and Miledi, R., Proc. Roy. Soc., B, 161, 483 (1965).

  2. 2

    Katz, B., and Miledi, R., J. Physiol. (in the press).

  3. 3

    Katz, B., and Miledi, R., Proc. Roy. Soc., B, 161, 453 (1965).

  4. 4

    Furukawa, T., Sasaoka, T., and Hosoya, Y., Jap. J. Physiol., 9, 143 (1959). Narahashi, T., Deguchi, T., Urakawa, N., and Ohkubo, Y., Amer. J. Physiol., 198, 934 (1960). Mosher, H. S., Fuhrman, F. A., Buchwald, H. D., and Fischer, H. G., Science, 144, 1100 (1964).

  5. 5

    Elmqvist, D., and Feldman, D. S., Acta Physiol. Scand. (in the press).

  6. 6

    Fatt, P., and Katz, B., Nature, 166, 597 (1950).

  7. 7

    Katz, B., and Miledi, R., Proc. Roy. Soc., B, 161, 496 (1965).

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

KATZ, B., MILEDI, R. Release of Acetylcholine from a Nerve Terminal by Electric Pulses of Variable Strength and Duration. Nature 207, 1097–1098 (1965). https://doi.org/10.1038/2071097a0

Download citation

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.