Endplate potentials (EPP) were recorded from the frog sartorius neuromuscular junction under conditions of low quantal content to study the effect of Ba2+, Sr2+, and Ca2+ on the changes in evoked transmitter release that occur during and after repetitive stimulation. The addition of 0.1-1 mM Ba2+ or Sr2+ to the Ca2+-containing bathing solution, or the replacement of Ca2+ with 0.8-1.4 mM Sr2+, led to a greater increase in EPP amplitudes during and immediately after repetitive stimulation. These changes in release were analyzed in terms of the four apparent components of increased transmitter release that have previously been distinguished on the basis of their kinetic properties. The Ba2+-induced increase in EPP amplitudes was associated with an increase in the magnitude but not the time constant of decay of augmentation. Ba2+ had little effect on potentiation or the first and second components of facilitation. The Sr2+-induced increase in EPP amplitudes was associated with an increase in the magnitude and the time constant of decay of the second component of facilitation. Sr2+ had little effect on potentiation, augmentation, or the first component of facilitation. The selective effects of Ba2+ on augmentation and of Sr2+ on the second component of facilitation were reversible and could be obtained in the presence of the other ion. The addition of 0.1-0.3 mM Ca2+ to the bathing solution had little effect on potentiation, augmentation, or the two components of facilitation. These results provide pharmacological support for the proposal that there are four different components of increased transmitter release associated with repetitive stimulation and suggest that the underlying factors in the nerve terminal that give rise to these components can act somewhat independently of one another.
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