Transmembrane action potential of a sinoatrial node cell. In contrast to other cardiac cells, there is no phase 2 or plateau. The threshold potential (TP) is -40 mV. The maximum diastolic potential (MDP) is achieved as a result of a gradual decline in the potassium conductance (gK+). Spontaneous phase 4 or diastolic depolarization permits the cell to achieve the TP, thereby initiating an action potential (g = transmembrane ion conductance). Stimulation of pacemaker cells within the sinoatrial node decreases the time required to achieve the TP, whereas vagal stimulation and the release of acetylcholine decrease the slope of diastolic depolarization. Thus, the positive and negative chronotropic actions of sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve stimulation can be attributed to the effects of the respective neurotransmitters on ion conductance in pacemaker cells of the sinuatrial node. gNa+ = Na+ conductance.
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