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J Neurophysiol. 2005 Aug;94(2):990-1000. Epub 2005 Apr 13.

GABAergic modulation of the activity of globus pallidus neurons in primates: in vivo analysis of the functions of GABA receptors and GABA transporters.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


Neurons in the external and internal segment of the globus pallidus (GPe and GPi, respectively) receive substantial GABAergic inputs from the striatum and through axon collaterals of neighboring pallidal neurons. The effects of GABA on pallidal activity depend on the synaptic localization of GABA receptors and the distribution and activity of GABA transporters (GATs). To explore the contribution of GABA receptors and transporters to pallidal function, we recorded the activity of single neurons in GPe or GPi before, during, and after local microinjections of GABAergic compounds in awake rhesus monkeys. Activation of GABA(A) or GABA(B) receptors with muscimol or baclofen, respectively, inhibited pallidal activity. These effects were reversed by concomitant infusion of the respective GABA receptor antagonists, gabazine and CGP-55845. Given alone, the antagonists were without consistent effect. Application of the selective GAT-1 inhibitor, SKF-89976A, and the semiselective GAT-3 blocker, SNAP-5114, decreased pallidal activity. Both GAT inhibitors increased GABA levels in the pallidum, as measured by microdialysis. Electron microscopic observations revealed that these transporters are located on glial processes and unmyelinated axonal segments, but rarely on terminals. Our results indicate that activation of GABA(A) and GABA(B) receptors inhibits neuronal activity in both segments of the pallidum. GAT-1 and GAT-3 are involved in the modulation of endogenous GABA levels and may be important in regulating the extrasynaptic levels of GABA. Together with previous evidence that a considerable proportion of pallidal GABA receptors are located outside the synaptic cleft, our experiments strongly support the importance of extrasynaptic GABAergic transmission in the primate pallidum.

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