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Brain Res. 2001 Dec 7;921(1-2):78-85.

Subfornical organ neurons projecting to paraventricular nucleus: whole-cell properties.

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Department of Physiology, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada K7L 3N6.


The subfornical organ (SFO) has been repeatedly identified as a CNS site that plays a critical role in sensing multiple physiological variables of the "milieu interieur" and, through efferent projections to other CNS sites, initiating physiological responses to change. Many recent in vitro patch-clamp studies have examined the cellular mechanisms underlying the sensory abilities of these specialized CNS neurons. The primary limitation of these studies, however, has been the inability to identify homogeneous groups of SFO neurons for such investigation. We report here the development of techniques to permit patch clamp recording from dissociated SFO neurons identified according to their in vivo projection site. SFO neurons were labeled by injection of fluorescently labeled, retrogradely transported microspheres into the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN) 3 days prior to cell dissociation. Patch-clamp recordings from these SFO-PVN neurons revealed both sodium currents, potassium currents, action potentials, input resistance and membrane potential which were all similar to SFO cells prepared from animals with no prior tracer injection. Labeled SFO-->PVN cells were also found to be osmosensitive and responsive to angiotensin II, suggesting specific functional roles for this anatomically defined group of SFO neurons. Intriguingly, our post hoc analysis also demonstrated that all labeled neurons demonstrated a unique electrophysiological profile dominated by a large transient potassium conductance such that the transient/sustained potassium current ratio, or degree of inactivation was, on average, greater than 4.0. Utilization of these tracing techniques to permit the in vitro recording from cells with known in vivo connections will permit study of intrinsic mechanisms that underlie physiological responses of anatomically defined populations of neurons.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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