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The current density (J) is a parameter routinely used to characterize individual ionic membrane currents. Its evaluation is based on the presumption that the magnitude of whole-cell ionic membrane current (I) is directly proportional to the cell membrane capacitance (C), i.e. I positively and strongly correlates with C and the regression line describing I-C relation intersects the y-axis close to the origin of coordinates. We aimed to prove the presumption in several examples and find whether the conversion of I to J could be always beneficial. I-C relation was analysed in several potassium currents, measured in rat atrial myocytes (in inward rectifier currents, I, and both the constitutively active and acetylcholine-induced components of acetylcholine-sensitive current, I and I), and in rat ventricular myocytes (transient outward current I). I-C correlation was estimated by the Pearson coefficient (r). A coefficient (k) was newly suggested describing deviation of the regression intercept from zero in currents with considerable r value. Based on mathematical simulations, I was satisfactorily proportional to C when r ≥ 0.6 and k ≤ 0.2 which was fulfilled in I and I (r = 0.84, k = 0.20, and r = 0.61, k = 0.06, respectively). I-C correlation was significantly positive, but weak in I (r = 0.42), and virtually missing in I (r = 0.04). The altered I-C proportionality in I and I likely reflects heterogeneity of the channel expression. We conclude that the conversion of I to J should be avoided when I-C proportionality is absent. Otherwise, serious misinterpretation of data may arise.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Progress in biophysics and molecular biology
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