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Exp Physiol. 2000 Mar;85 Spec No:145S-151S.

Pre- and postsynaptic modulation of the electrical activity of rat supraoptic neurones.

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Department of Physiology, University of Occupational and Environmental Health School of Medicine, Kitakyushu, Japan.


The release of vasopressin and oxytocin is regulated by the electrical activity of magnocellular neurosecretory cells in the supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei, which is under the control of a great variety of neurotransmitters and neuromodulators. The major neural signals to the supraoptic nucleus are from excitatory glutamate inputs and inhibitory GABA inputs. In recent studies, the voltage-clamp mode of the whole-cell patch-clamp technique has been applied to slice preparations from rat hypothalamus to monitor synaptic inputs to supraoptic neurones. Spontaneous excitatory and inhibitory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs and IPSCs) are abolished by CNQX and picrotoxin, respectively, but are insensitive to tetrodotoxin, indicating that they represent quantal release of glutamate and GABA, respectively, from nerve terminals of presynaptic neurones. GABA and glutamate show remarkable suppressive effects on both EPSCs and IPSCs via presynaptic GABA(B) and mGlu receptors, respectively. Noradrenaline, which excites supraoptic neurones via postsynaptic alpha1-receptors, also suppresses IPSCs and potentiates EPSCs. On the other hand, prostaglandin E2, which excites supraoptic neurones via postsynaptic prostaglandin E2 (EP) receptors of the EP4 subclass, also suppresses IPSCs via EP3 receptors but has little effect on EPSCs. Thus pre- and postsynaptic mechanisms may act cooperatively to excite supraoptic neurones. Nitric oxide, which inhibits supraoptic neurones, potentiates IPSCs without affecting EPSCs. This provides another example for the preferential modulation of IPSCs of supraoptic neurones. On the other hand, PACAP, which causes a long-lasting increase in the firing frequency via the postsynaptic receptors, has no effect on EPSCs and IPSCs, suggesting that some ligands act only at postsynaptic receptors. Thus multiple patterns for pre- and postsynaptic modulation are present in the supraoptic nucleus, and the electrical activity of supraoptic neurones is regulated via complex mechanisms at both pre- and postsynaptic sites.

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