Differential actions of AMP kinase on ATP-sensitive K+ currents in ventral tegmental area and substantia nigra zona compacta neurons

Yan Na Wu, Ke Zhong Shen, Steven W. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


ATP-sensitive K+ (K-ATP) channels play significant roles in regulating the excitability of dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra zona compacta (SNC). We showed previously that K-ATP channel function is up-regulated by AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). This study extended these studies to the neurons adjacent to the SNC in the ventral tegmental area (VTA). Using patch pipettes to record whole-cell currents in slices of rat midbrain, we found that the AMPK activator A769662 increased the amplitude of currents evoked by the K-ATP channel opener diazoxide in presumed dopamine-containing VTA neurons. However, current evoked by diazoxide with A769662 was significantly smaller in VTA neurons compared to SNC neurons. Moreover, a significantly lower proportion of VTA neurons responded to diazoxide with outward current. However, A769662 was able to increase the incidence of diazoxide-responsive neurons in the VTA. In contrast, A769662 did not potentiate diazoxide-evoked currents in presumed non-dopamine VTA neurons. These results show that AMPK activation augments K-ATP currents in presumed dopamine neurons in the VTA and SNC, although diazoxide-evoked currents remain less robust in the VTA. We conclude that K-ATP channels may play important physiological roles in VTA and SNC dopamine neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2746-2753
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number11
StatePublished - Dec 2017


  • AMP kinase
  • ATP-sensitive potassium channel
  • diazoxide
  • dopamine neuron
  • patch-clamp recording

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Differential actions of AMP kinase on ATP-sensitive K<sup>+</sup> currents in ventral tegmental area and substantia nigra zona compacta neurons'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this