The physiological and pharmacological properties of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-induced responses were investigated in acutely isolated spiral ganglion cells (SGCs) of guinea pig by using either a nystatin-perforated patch recording configuration or a conventional whole-cell patch recording mode combined with rapid drug application. GABA and GABAA subtype receptor agonist, muscimol, induced inward currents in a concentration-dependent manner in 74% of all cells. The current-voltage relationship for the GABA response indicated the GABA-induced current in SGCs is carried by Cl-. Bicuculline (BIC), strychnine (STR), and picrotoxin (PTX) suppressed the GABA response in a concentration-dependent manner. BIC and STR, and PTX blocked the GABA response in a competitive manner and in a non-competitive manner, respectively. For inorganic antagonists, Cd2+ and Ni2+ also inhibited the GABA response. On the other hand, Zn2+ failed to suppress the GABA response in SGCs. An antibiotic, benzylpenicillin, suppressed the GABA response. The GABA response was augmented by both a barbiturate derivative, pentobarbital (PB), and a benzodiazepine derivative, diazepam. The results suggest clearly that the physiological and pharmacological characteristics of GABAA receptor on acutely isolated guinea pig SGCs are quite similar to the common GABAA receptor found in other sensory ganglion cells.
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