The Journal of membrane biology

Effects of irreversible and reversible cholinesterase inhibitors on single acetylcholine-activated channels.

PMID 1371811


The use of cholinesterase (CHE) inhibitors provided valuable information about the mechanism(s) of neuromuscular transmission, but questions on side effects at the level of ACh-activated channels were raised. Patch-clamp recording was used to study the effects of prostigmine (PST) and methanesulfonyl fluoride (MSF), a reversible and an irreversible cholinesterase inhibitor, respectively, on ACh-activated channels. We found that these drugs diminish the average dwell time of elementary currents from around 5 msec (control) to less than 1 msec in the presence of PST (20 microM) or MSF (5 mM) (at room temperature). With MSF the ACh-activated channel conductance of the most frequently observed amplitude class decreased from 45 pS (control) to 30 pS, but not in the presence of PST. In control conditions there were also amplitude classes of 60 and 24 pS, with probabilities of occurrence less than 10%. In the presence of 1.5 mM MSF, where current dwell time was not affected, additional subconductance states of 19 and 36 pS were observed and may be due to partial blockade of the open channel. We conclude that the drug of choice to be used in studies on the role of CHE in the neuromuscular transmission is MSF, because at 20 microM PST, where blockade of ACh-activated channels is significant, cholinesterase was reported to be partially inhibited, whereas at 1 mM MSF it is fully inhibited and the dwell time of ACh-activated channels is not affected.