Miniature endplate potentials (MEPPs) were recorded from frog sartorius neuromuscular junctions under conditions of reduced quantal contents to study the effect of repetitive nerve stimulation on asynchronous (tonic) quantal transmitter release. MEPP frequency increased during repetitive stimulation and then decayed back to the control level after the conditioning trains. The decay of the increased MEPP frequency after 100- to 200-impulse conditioning trains can be described by four components that decayed exponentially with time constants of about 50 ms, 500 ms, 7 s, and 80 s. These time constants are similar to those for the decay of stimulation-induced changes in synchronous (phasic) transmitter release, as measured by endplate potential (EPP) amplitudes, corresponding, respectively, to the first and second components of facilitation, augmentation, and potentiation. The addition of small amounts of Ca2+ or Ba2+ to the Ca2+-containing bathing solution, or the replacement of Ca2+ with Sr2+, led to a greater increase in the stimulation-induced increases in MEPP frequency. The Sr-induced increase in MEPP frequency was associated with an increase in the second component of facilitation of MEPP frequency; the Ba-induced increase with an increase in augmentation. These effects of Sr2+ and Ba2+ on stimulation-induced changes in MEPP frequency are similar to the effects of these ions on stimulation-induced changes in EPP amplitude. These ionic similarities and the similar kinetics of decay suggest that stimulation-induced changes in MEPP frequency and EPP amplitude have some similar underlying mechanisms. Calculations are presented which show that a fourth-power residual calcium model for stimulation-induced changes in transmitter release cannot readily account for the observation that stimulation-induced changes in MEPP frequency and EPP amplitude have similar time-courses.
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