Two levels of resting potential in cardiac Purkinje fibers. Academic Article uri icon


  • In an appropriate ionic environment, the resting potential of canine cardiac purkinje fibers may have either of two value. By changing the external K concentration, [K](0), in small steps, it was shown that, in the low (1 mM) Cl, Na-containing solutions used in this study, the two levels of resting potential could be obtained only within a narrow range of [K](0) values; that range was usually found between 1 and 4 mM. Within the critical [K](0) range the resting potential could be shifted from either level to the other by the application of small current pulses. It was shown that under these conditions the steady-state current- voltage relationship was "N-shaped," and that a region of both negative slope, and negative chord conductance lay between the two stable zero-current potentials. The negative chord conductance was largely due to inward sodium current, only part of which was sensitive to tetrodotoxin (TTX). Under appropriate conditions, the negative chord conductance could be abolished by several experimental interventions and the membrane potential thereby shifted from the lower to the higher resting level: those interventions which were effective by presumably diminishing the steady-state inward current included reducing the external sodium concentration, adding TTX, or adding lidocaine; those which presumably increased the steady-state outward current included small increases in [K](0), brief depolarizations to around -20 mV, or the addition of acetylcholine chloride.

publication date

  • December 1977