Case Files: Neuroscience by C. Toy ; Rahul Jandial ; Evan Y. Snyder

By C. Toy ; Rahul Jandial ; Evan Y. Snyder

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Neurons code the intensity of a stimulus by the frequency, not the amplitude of action potentials. The action potential is crucial for the passage of information via electrical impulses over long distances and is generated by voltage-gated ion channels. These channels alter their selective permeability to a specific ion based upon changes in the transmembrane potential. Specific voltage-gated channels include Na+, K+, and Ca2+ channels. The action potential is a regenerative signal that does not lose amplitude as it travels down the axon and rely on voltage-gated Na+ and K+ channels.

While the Nernst equation accounts for a single ion, the GoldmanHodgkin-Katz equation accounts for the major ions which contribute to the resting membrane potential and each ion’s permeability coefficient, the ease with which the ions pass across the cell membrane: Vm = RT/F × ln (pK[K+]out + pNa[Na+]out + pCl[Cl−]out)/(pK[K+]in + pNa[Na+]in + pCl[Cl−]in) where the permeability coefficient for a specific ion is represented by pK, pNa, and pCl. If we are to take a hypothetical cell membrane with only resting potassium channels open, we would find that K+ ions leave the cell because of its concentration gradient.

Autopsy confirmed a diagnosis of tetrodotoxin (TTX) poisoning. ◆ What is the biochemical mechanism of this disease? ◆ How does TTX inhibit neural activity? ◆ What treatment options are available? 24 CASE FILES: NEUROSCIENCE ANSWERS TO CASE 3: ELECTRICAL PROPERTIES OF NERVES AND RESTING MEMBRANE POTENTIAL Summary: A 39-year-old businessman presents to the ED with complaints of numbness and tingling in his mouth which progresses to paralysis, respiratory failure, and death. ◆ Mechanism: TTX binds to the fast voltage-gated sodium channel at a site which is located in the extracellular pore opening of the ion channel, known as site 1.

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