We studied the CO(2)/H(+)-chemosensitive responses of individual solitary complex (SC) neurons from adult rats by simultaneously measuring the intracellular pH (pH(i)) and electrical responses to hypercapnic acidosis (HA). SC neurons were recorded using the blind whole cell patch-clamp technique and loading the soma with the pH-sensitive dye pyranine through the patch pipette. We found that SC neurons from adult rats have a lower steady-state pH(i) than SC neurons from neonatal rats. In the presence of chemical and electrical synaptic blockade, adult SC neurons have firing rate responses to HA (percentage of neurons activated or inhibited and the magnitude of response as determined by the chemosensitivity index) that are similar to SC neurons from neonatal rats. They also have a typical response to isohydric hypercapnia, including decreased DeltapH(i), followed by pH(i) recovery, and increased firing rate. Thus, the chemosensitive response of SC neurons from adults is similar to the chemosensitive response of SC neurons from neonatal rats. Because our findings for adults are similar to previously reported values for neurons from neonatal rats, we conclude that intrinsic chemosensitivity is established early in development for SC neurons and is maintained throughout adulthood.
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