The effects of exposure to exogenous fatty acids and membrane fatty acid modification on the electrical properties of NG108-15 cells

Jeffrey A. Love*, William R. Saum, Richard McGee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


1. The role of membrane lipid composition in determining the electrical properties of neuronal cells was investigated by altering the available fatty acids in the growth medium of cultured neuroblastoma × glioma hybrid cells, clone NG108-15. 2. Growth of the cells for several days in the presence of polyunsaturated fatty acids (linoleic, linolenic, and arachidonic) caused a pronounced decrease in the Na+ action-potential rate of rise (dV/dt) and smaller decreases in the amplitude, measured by intracellular recording. Oleic acid had no effect on the action potentials generated by the cells. In contrast, a saturated fatty acid (palmitate) and a trans monounsaturated fatty acid (elaidate) caused increases in both the rate of rise and the amplitude. 3. No changes in the resting membrane potentials or Ca2+ action potentials of fatty acid-treated cells were observed. The membrane capacitance and time constant were not altered by exposure to arachidonate, oleate, or elaidate, whereas arachidonate caused a small increase in membrane resistance. 4. Examination of the membrane phospholipid fatty acid composition of cells grown with various fatty acids revealed no consistent alterations which could explain these results. 5. To examine the mechanism for arachidonate-induced decreases in dV/dt, the binding of3H-saxitoxin (known to interact with voltage-sensitive Na+) channels was measured. Membranes from cells grown with arachidonate contained fewer saxitoxin binding sites, suggesting fewer Na+ channels in these cells. 6. We conclude that conditions which lead to major changes in the membrane fatty acid composition have no effect on the resting membrane potential, membrane capacitance, time constant, or Ca2+ action potentials in NG108-15 cells. Membrane resistance also does not appear to be very sensitive to membrane fatty acid composition. However, changes in the availability of fatty acids and/or changes in the subsequent membrane fatty acid composition lead to altered Na+ action potentials. The primary mechanism for this alteration appears to be through changes in the number of Na+ channels in the cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)333-352
Number of pages20
JournalCellular and molecular neurobiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1985


  • membrane fatty acid composition, relation to electrical properties
  • membrane lipids, relation to electrical properties
  • neuroblastoma × glioma hybrid cells, electrical properties
  • neuroblastoma × glioma hybrid cells, membrane lipids
  • unsaturated fatty acids, effects on electrical properties
  • voltage-sensitive Ca channels, changes with membrane lipid
  • voltage-sensitive Na channels, changes with membrane lipid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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