Pharmacological modulation of the voltage-gated neuronal Kv7/KCNQ/M-channel alters the intrinsic excitability and synaptic responses of pyramidal neurons in rat prefrontal cortex slices
The prefrontal cortex (PFC) critical for higher cognition is implicated in neuropsychiatric diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, depression and schizophrenia. The voltage-activated Kv7/KCNQ/M-channel or M-current modulates the neuronal excitability that defines the fundamental mechanism of brain function. However, whether M-current functions to regulate the excitability of PFC neurons remains elusive. In this study, we recorded the native M-current from PFC layer V pyramidal neurons in rat brain slices and showed that it modulated the intrinsic excitability and synaptic responses of PFC pyramidal neurons. Application of a specific M-channel blocker XE991 (40 μmol/L) or opener retigabine (10 μmol/L) resulted in inhibition or activation of M-current, respectively. In the currentclamp recordings, inhibition of M-current was evidenced by the increased average spike frequency and the reduced first inter-spike interval (ISI), spike onset latency and fast afterhyperpolarization (fAHP), whereas activation of M-current caused opposite responses. Furthermore, inhibition of M-current significantly increased the amplitude of excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) and depolarized the resting membrane potential (RMP) without affecting the miniature EPSC (mEPSC) frequency. These data demonstrate that voltage-gated neuronal Kv7/KCNQ/M-current modulates the excitability and synaptic transmission of PFC neurons, suggesting that pharmacological modulation of M-current in the PFC may exert beneficial effects on cognitive deficits implicated in the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric disorders.