Two kinetic models are introduced which predict amplitudes and time-courses of endplate currents and miniature endplate currents at neuromuscular junctions, at both normal and acetylcholinesterase-inhibited endplates. Appropriate differential rate equations reflecting interactions of acetylcholine with acetylcholine receptor and with esterase, diffusion of acetylcholine both within and from the synaptic cleft, and cooperativity between receptor site occupancy and ion channel opening are solved. Acetylcholine release into the cleft is assumed to be instantaneous. The simpler homogeneous reaction space model accurately predicts decay phase time constants are inaccurate. The two-reaction space model predicts amplitudes and time constants within a factor of two of those observed experimentally. The simulations indicate that the amplitudes and time-courses are primarily determined by the chemical reaction rates that characterize acetylcholine interactions with receptor and esterase and that these interactions occur under nonequilibrium conditions. Approximately 50% of the total ion channels in the initial reaction space are predicted to be opened at the peak endplate current. The cooperative opening of ion channels by acetylcholine requires that acetylcholine be introduced into the cleft in discrete, concentrated elements. Virtually all the open channels are confined to the initial reaction space, although acetylcholine-bound receptor sites can be much more widely distributed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas