Skip Navigation
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Your Environment. Your Health.

Publication Detail

Title: Merits and Limitations of Studying Neuronal Depolarization-Dependent Processes Using Elevated External Potassium.

Authors: Rienecker, Kira D A; Poston, Robert G; Saha, Ramendra N

Published In ASN Neuro, (2020 Jan-Dec)

Abstract: Elevated extracellular potassium chloride is widely used to achieve membrane depolarization of cultured neurons. This technique has illuminated mechanisms of calcium influx through L-type voltage sensitive calcium channels, activity-regulated signaling, downstream transcriptional events, and many other intracellular responses to depolarization. However, there is enormous variability in these treatments, including durations from seconds to days and concentrations from 3mM to 150 mM KCl. Differential effects of these variable protocols on neuronal activity and transcriptional programs are underexplored. Furthermore, potassium chloride treatments in vitro are criticized for being poor representatives of in vivo phenomena and are questioned for their effects on cell viability. In this review, we discuss the intracellular consequences of elevated extracellular potassium chloride treatment in vitro, the variability of such treatments in the literature, the strengths and limitations of this tool, and relevance of these studies to brain functions and dysfunctions.

PubMed ID: 33256465 Exiting the NIEHS site

MeSH Terms: Action Potentials/drug effects*; Action Potentials/physiology*; Animals; Calcium Channels, L-Type/physiology; Humans; Membrane Potentials/drug effects; Membrane Potentials/physiology; Neuromuscular Depolarizing Agents/pharmacology*; Neurons/drug effects*; Neurons/physiology*; Potassium Chloride/pharmacology*

to Top