Veratridine modification of Na current was examined in single dissociated ventricular myocytes from late-fetal rats by applying pulses to -30 mV for 50 ms every 2 or 5 s from a holding potential of -100 mV (20 degrees C) and measuring amplitude, Itail, and time constant, tau tail, of the post-repolarization inward tail current induced by the alkaloid. Increasing the pH of a 30 microM veratridine superfusate from 7.3 to 8.3 (which increases the fraction of uncharged veratridine molecules from 0.5 to 5% while decreasing that of protonated molecules from 99.5 to 95%) increased Itail by a factor of 2.5 +/- 0.5 (mean +/- SEM; n = 3). Switching from 100 microM veratridine superfusate at pH 7.3 to 10 microM at pH 8.3 did not affect the size of Itail (n = 4). Intracellular (pipette) application of 100 microM veratridine at pH 7.3 or 8.3 produced small Itail's suggesting transmembrane loss of alkaloid. If this was compensated for by simultaneous extracellular application of 100 microM veratridine at a pH identical to intracellular pH, Itail (measured relative to the maximum amplitude induced by a combination of 100 microM veratridine and 1 microM BDF 9145 in the same cell) at pHi 7.3 did not significantly differ from that at pHi 8.3 (84 +/- 4 vs. 70 +/- 6%; n = 3 each). Results from six control cells and five cells subjected to extra- and/or intracellularly increased viscosity by the addition of 0.5 or 1 molal sucrose showed that increasing intracellular viscosity 1.6- and 2.5-fold increased tau tail 1.5- and 2.3-fold, respectively, while a selective 2.5-fold increase of extracellular viscosity did not significantly affect tau tail.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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