Large conductance Ca²⁺-activated K⁺ (BK) channels promote secretagogue-induced transition from spiking to bursting in murine anterior pituitary corticotrophs.
Journal of Physiology
Anterior pituitary corticotroph cells are a central component of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis essential for the neuroendocrine response to stress. Corticotrophs are excitable cells that receive input from two hypothalamic secretagogues, corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) and arginine vasopressin (AVP) to control the release of adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH). Although corticotrophs are spontaneously active and increase in excitability in response to CRH and AVP the patterns of electrical excitability and underlying ionic conductances are poorly understood. In this study, we have used electrophysiological, pharmacological and genetic approaches coupled with mathematical modelling to investigate whether CRH and AVP promote distinct patterns of electrical excitability and to interrogate the role of large conductance calcium- and voltage-activated potassium (BK) channels in spontaneous and secretagogue-induced activity. We reveal that BK channels do not play a significant role in the generation of spontaneous activity but are critical for the transition to bursting in response to CRH. In contrast, AVP promotes an increase in single spike frequency, a mechanism independent of BK channels but dependent on background non-selective conductances. Co-stimulation with CRH and AVP results in complex patterns of excitability including increases in both single spike frequency and bursting. The ability of corticotroph excitability to be differentially regulated by hypothalamic secretagogues provides a mechanism for differential control of corticotroph excitability in response to different stressors.
P.J.D. was supported by an MRC PhD studentship in the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh. Work was supported by grants to M.J.S. and P.R. from the Wellcome Trust (082407), to M.J.S. from MRC (J008893), and to R.B. and J.T. from the National Institutes of Health (DK43200).
This is the final version of the article. Available from Wiley via the DOI in this record.
Journal of Physiology, 2015, Vol. 593, pp. 1197 - 1211
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