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J Neurophysiol. 1990 Jun;63(6):1347-60.

Neurotransmitter receptors mediating excitatory input to cells in the cat lateral geniculate nucleus. I. Lagged cells.

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  • 1Institute of Neurophysiology, University of Oslo, Norway.


1. Synaptic mechanisms that might explain the functional properties of the recently discovered class of lagged cells in the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) were analyzed with electrophysiological and pharmacologic techniques. To study the type of excitatory amino acid (EAA) receptor that mediates visual responses of lagged cells, we recorded the response of single cells to a stationary flashing light spot before, during, and after microiontophoretic application of antagonists and agonists to EAA receptors. 2. The visual response of the lagged cells could be almost completely blocked by an antagonist to the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor. The degree of suppression was dose dependent, and the average maximum degree of suppression for all the cells was 94%. NMDA enhanced the response, and this enhancement was antagonized by NMDA antagonists. A quisqualate/kainate receptor antagonist had no significant effect on the lagged cells. 3. These findings indicate that the visual response in lagged cells is dependent upon activation of NMDA receptors, which may directly result from activation of retinal inputs. 4. No pharmacologic difference was seen between lagged X- and Y-cells, or between lagged ON- and OFF-center cells. 5. gamma-Aminobutyric acid-A (GABA-A) receptor antagonists were used to study whether the characteristic lag of the visual response and the suppression of the initial transient response component of the lagged cells are dependent on geniculate inhibition. Beside enhancement of the visual response, the GABA antagonists strongly reduced the lag of the visual response, and an initial transient response component occurred instead of the initial suppression. The lag remained slightly longer than for nonlagged cells, and the peak firing rate of the transient was below values typical for nonlagged cells, indicating that the lagged cell properties are dependent on other factors beside GABA-A receptor-mediated inhibition. 6. The enhanced visual response during iontophoresis of GABA antagonists could be completely blocked by simultaneous iontophoresis of an NMDA-receptor antagonist. This gives further support to the hypothesis that the retinal input to these cells is mediated by NMDA receptors. 7. The NMDA-receptor/ionophore complex mediates excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) characterized by slow rise and decay times and long duration. The ionophore is characterized by a voltage-dependent blockade that makes these receptors particularly sensitive to inhibitory input. The temporal interplay between the slow NMDA receptor-mediated EPSPs and the fast GABA receptor-mediated inhibitory postsynaptic potentials (IPSPs) may explain the characteristic response properties of the lagged cells.

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