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J Neurosci. 2001 Sep 1;21(17):6522-31.

ATP P2X receptor-mediated enhancement of glutamate release and evoked EPSCs in dorsal horn neurons of the rat spinal cord.

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McKnight Brain Institute of the University of Florida and Division of Neuroscience, Department of Oral Surgery, College of Dentistry, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32610, USA.


Presynaptic ATP P2X receptors have been proposed to play a role in modulating glutamate release from the first sensory synapse in the spinal cord. Using spinal cord slice preparations and patch-clamp recordings from dorsal horn neurons in lamina V of the rat spinal cord, we showed that the activation of P2X receptors by alpha,beta-methylene-ATP (alphabetam-ATP) resulted in a large increase in the frequency of spontaneous EPSCs (sEPSCs) and miniature EPSCs (mEPSCs). The increases in mEPSC frequency by alphabetam-ATP were not blocked by the Ca(2+) channel blocker, 30 microm La(3+), but were abolished in a bath solution when Ca(2+) was omitted. The increases in mEPSC frequency by alphabetam-ATP were blocked completely by the P2 receptor antagonist pyridoxalphosphate-6-azophenyl-2',4'-disulfonic acid (PPADS) at 10 microm. Furthermore, the EPSCs evoked by dorsal root stimulation were potentiated by alphabetam-ATP as well as by the ecto-ATPase inhibitor ARL67156 and were depressed in the presence of P2 receptor antagonists PPADS (10 microm) and suramin (5 microm). The effects of these compounds on the evoked EPSCs were associated with the changes in glutamate release probability of primary afferent central terminals. Our results indicate that alphabetam-ATP-sensitive P2X receptors play a significant role in modulating excitatory sensory synaptic transmission in the spinal cord, and the potential role of endogenous ATP is suggested.

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