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Effect of dietary salt intake on Epithelial Na+ Channels (ENaC) in vasopressin magnocellular neurosecretory neurons in the rat supraoptic nucleus

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The Journal of Physiology

Published online on


All three epithelial Na+ channel (ENaC) subunits (α, β, and γ) were located in vasopressin (VP) magnocellular neurons in the hypothalamic supraoptic (SON) and paraventricular nuclei. Our previous study demonstrated that ENaC mediates a Na+ leak current that affects the steady state membrane potential in VP neurons. In the present study, we evaluated the effect of dietary salt intake on ENaC regulation and activity in VP neurons. High dietary salt intake for 7 days caused an increase in expression of β‐ and γENaC subunits in the SON and the translocation of αENaC immunoreactivity towards the plasma membrane. Patch‐clamp experiments on hypothalamic slices showed that the mean amplitude of the putative ENaC currents was significantly greater in VP neurons from animals that were fed a high‐salt diet compared with controls. The enhanced ENaC current contributed to the more depolarized basal membrane potential observed in VP neurons in the high‐salt diet group. These findings indicate that high dietary NaCl intake enhances the expression and activity of ENaC which augments synaptic drive by depolarizing the basal membrane potential close to the action potential threshold during hormonal demand. However, ENaCs appear to have only a minor role in the regulation of the firing activity of VP neurons in the absence of synaptic inputs as neither the mean intraburst frequency, burst duration, nor interspike interval variability of phasic bursting activity was affected. Moreover, ENaC activity did not affect the initiation, sustention, or termination of the phasic bursting generated in an intrinsic manner without synaptic inputs. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved