John E. Remmers (1), Stanley A. Schultz (1), Jacqueline Wallace (1),
Ryuji Takeda (2) and Akira Haji (2,*)
(1) Respiratory Research Group, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta T2N 4N1, Canada
(2) Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University, 2630 Sugitani, Toyama 930-01, Japan
(*) To whom correspondence should be addressed.
Abstract: Investigation of the identity and modes of action of neurotransmitters in the mammalian central nervous system can be facilitated by simultaneous intracellular recording of membrane potential and extracellular iontophoresis of agonists and antagonists. We describe here techniques for conveniently constructing a compound microelectrode, originally described by Sonnhof (Pflugers Arch 341, 351 - 358, 1973), suitable for such studies. The Sonnhof electrode consists of two components, a centraxial micropipette for recording membrane potential surrounded by a cylindrical array of 6 pipettes for iontophoresis. The cylindrical array tapers coaxially and terminates in 6 contiguous, crescent-shaped orifices surrounding the terminal portion of the central pipette, 25 - 50 microm from the tip. Pipettes were constructed from borosilicate glass tubing of 1-mm wall thickness having a 10-mm or 16-mm outer diameter. The resistances, flux and transport numbers for iontophoresis of glycine were measured for pipettes constructed from both sizes of glass. Flux increased with increasing levels of current, and transport number decreased with increasing micropipette resistance. A spherical diffusion model points out the steep dependence of steady state concentration on diffusional distance, stressing the importance of diminishing the distance between the iontophoresis source and the recording site. This is particularly true when brief pulses of current are used.
Keywords: Transport number, Brief pulse application, Diffusional distance, Membrane potential, Iontophoresis