Date of Submission

Spring 2018

Academic Programs and Concentrations


Project Advisor 1

Arseny Khakhalin

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Pancuronium and d-tubocurarine are compounds that are commonly used to immobilize animals during in vivo studies of the brain. They induce paralysis by blocking the binding of agonists to nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, which are required for muscle contraction. For their use in electrophysiological or functional imaging studies it is imperative that these compounds do not influence the features that these techniques measure, namely, ion channel function and cellular activity. And yet, diverse types of nicotinic receptors are abundant in the central nervous systems of many animals. While neuronal and muscle-type nicotinic receptors are structurally distinct, there is evidence that pancuronium and d-tubocurarine can bind and inhibit both receptor classes. Additionally, studies have reported a variety of influences of these compounds on neural activity and ion channel functions.

In this study we characterized the effects of pancuronium and d-tubocurarine on electrophysiological properties of brain cells in Xenopus tadpoles. We obtained voltage and current trace recordings from tectal cells in the whole-cell patch configuration. Our results show no evidence that pancuronium or d-tubocurarine influence ion channel functions or neural excitability. We found, however, that cells exposed to d-tubocurarine had reduced membrane capacitances compared to control cells. This supports the idea that d-tubocurarine may not be suitable as a paralytic agent for brain studies. More studies will be needed for our evaluation of pancuronium for this purpose.

Open Access Agreement

On-Campus only

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
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