Acetyl-L-carnitine is known to improve many aspects of the neural activity even if its exact role in neurotransmission is still unknown. This study investigates the effects of acetyl-L-carnitine in T segmental sensory neurons of the leech Hirudo medicinalis. These neurons are involved in some forms of neural plasticity associated with learning processes. Their physiological firing is accompanied by a large afterhyperpolarization that is mainly due to the Na+/K+ ATPase activity and partially to a Ca2+-dependent K+ current. A clear-cut hyperpolarization and a significant increase of the afterhyperpolarization have been recorded in T neurons of leeches injected with 2 mM acetyl-L-carnitine some days before. Acute treatments of 50 mM acetyl-L-carnitine induced similar effects in T cells of naive animals. Moreover, in these cells, widely arborized, the afterhyperpolarization seems to play an important role in determining the action potential transmission at neuritic bifurcations. A computational model of a T cell has been previously developed considering detailed data for geometry and the modulation of the pump current. Herein, we showed that to a larger afterhyperpolarization, due to the acetyl-L-carnitine-induced effects, corresponds a decrement in the number of action potentials reaching synaptic terminals.
Cell Type(s): Leech T segmental sensory neuron
Simulation Environment: SNNAP