We charted postnatal changes in the intrinsic electrophysiological properties and synaptic responses of rat intrinsic cardiac ganglion (ICG) neurons. We developed a whole-mount ganglion preparation of the excised right atrial ganglion plexus. Using intracellular recordings and nerve stimulation we tested the hypothesis that substantial transformations in the intrinsic electrical characteristics and synaptic transmission accompany postnatal development. Membrane potential (Em) did not change but time constant (t) and cell capacitance increased with postnatal development. Accordingly, input resistance (Rin) decreased but specific membrane resistance (Rm) increased postnatally. Comparison of the somatic active membrane properties revealed significant changes in electrical phenotype. All neonatal neurons had somatic action potentials (APs) with small overshoots and small afterhyperpolarizations (AHPs). Adult neurons had somatic APs with large overshoots and large AHP amplitudes. The range of AHP duration was larger in adults than in neonates. The AP characteristics of juvenile neurons resembled those of adults, with the exception of AHP duration, which fell midway between neonate and adult values. Phasic, multiply adapting, and tonic evoked discharge activities were recorded from ICG neurons. Most neurons displayed phasic discharge at each developmental stage. All neurons received excitatory synaptic inputs from the vagus or interganglionic nerve trunk(s), the strength of which did not change significantly with postnatal age. The changes in the electrophysiological properties of the postganglionic neuron suggest that increased complexity of parasympathetic regulation of cardiac function accompanies postnatal development.
Rimmer, K., & Harper, A. A. (2006). Developmental changes in electrophysiological properties and synaptic transmission in rat intracardiac ganglion neurons. Journal of Neurophysiology, 95(6), 3543-3552. https://doi.org/10.1152/jn.01220.2005