Neurotransmitter modulation of calcium channels is dependent on the charge carrier used in the recording of currents.
Currents through calcium channels were recorded using calcium, barium and strontium as charge carriers in NG108-15 cells. The mean normalised peak current amplitude at 0 mV was not significantly different between the charge carriers; however, the sustained component (measured at the end of the 500 ms command step) was ca. 3 times larger in barium and strontium. Further, the inhibition by acetylcholine or noradrenaline, although the same at the peak of the current envelope, was significantly greater on the sustained portion of the current for barium and strontium. Increasing internal calcium-buffering (to reduce calcium-dependent inactivation with calcium as the charge carrier) did not increase the amount of inhibition of the sustained portion of current. These results suggest a cautious approach to analysis of neurotransmitter modulation of calcium currents using other charge carriers than calcium.