Characterization of acid signaling in rat vagal pulmonary sensory neurons

Qihai Gu, Lu Yuan Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Local tissue acidosis frequently occurs in airway inflammatory and ischemic conditions. The effect of physiological/pathophysiological-relevant low pH (7.0 -5.5) on isolated rat vagal pulmonary sensory neurons was investigated using whole cell perforated patch-clamp recordings. In voltage-clamp recordings, vagal pulmonary sensory neurons exhibited distinct pH sensitivities and different phenotypes of inward current in responding to acidic challenge. The current evoked by lowering the pH of extracellular solution to 7.0 consisted of only a transient, rapidly inactivating component with small amplitude. The amplitude of this transient current increased when the proton concentration was elevated. In addition, a slow, sustained inward current began to emerge when pH was reduced to <6.5. The current-voltage curve indicated that the transient component of acid-evoked current was carried predominantly by Na+. This transient component was dose-dependently inhibited by amiloride, a common blocker of acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs), whereas the sustained component was significantly attenuated by capsazepine, a selective antagonist of transient receptor potential vanilloid receptor subtype-1 (TRPV1). The two components of acid-evoked current also displayed distinct recovery kinetics from desensitization. Furthermore, in current-clamp recordings, transient extracellular acidification depolarized the membrane potential and generated action potentials in these isolated neurons. In summary, our results have demonstrated that low pH can stimulate rat vagal pulmonary sensory neurons through the activation of both ASICs and TRPV1. The relative roles of these two current species depend on the range of pH and vary between neurons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L58-L65
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006


  • Acid-sensing ion channels
  • Low pH
  • Lung
  • Transient receptor potential vanilloid receptor subtype-1
  • Vagus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


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