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J Neurosci. 1997 Jan 1;17(1):70-82.

Peptidergic modulation of intrathalamic circuit activity in vitro: actions of cholecystokinin.

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  • 1Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


Cholecystokinin (CCK)-mediated actions on intrathalamic rhythmic activities were examined in an in vitro rat thalamic slice preparation. Single electrical stimuli in the thalamic reticular nucleus (nRt) evoked rhythmic activity (1-15 sec duration) in nRt and the adjacent ventrobasal nucleus (VB). Low CCK concentrations (20-50 nM) suppressed rhythmic oscillations in 43% of experiments but prolonged such activities in the remaining slices. Higher CCK concentrations (100-400 nM) had a predominantly antioscillatory effect. Suppression of oscillations was associated with a relatively large membrane depolarization of nRt neurons that changed their firing mode from phasic (burst) to tonic (single-spike) output. This decreased burst discharge of nRt neurons during CCK application reduced inhibitory drive onto VB neurons from multiple peaked inhibitory postsynaptic currents (IPSCs) to single peaked inhibitory events. We hypothesize that suppression of inhibitory drive onto VB neurons decreases their probability of burst output, which, together with a reduction of nRt burst output, dampens the oscillatory activity. Low CCK concentrations, which produced little or no depolarization of nRt neurons, did not alter the firing mode of the nRt neurons. However, the probability of burst output from nRt neurons in response to subthreshold stimuli was increased in low CCK concentrations, presumably leading to an increase in the number of nRt neurons participating in the rhythmic activity. Our findings suggest that the neuropeptide CCK, by altering the firing characteristics of nRt neurons, has powerful modulatory effects on intrathalamic rhythms; the ultimate action was dependent on CCK concentration and resting state of these cells.

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