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J Neurophysiol. 2005 Jul;94(1):163-75. Epub 2005 Mar 16.

Presynaptic inhibition of corticothalamic feedback by metabotropic glutamate receptors.

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Neuroscience Program, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Medical Center Blvd. Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA.


The thalamus relays sensory information to cortex, but this information may be influenced by excitatory feedback from cortical layer VI. The full importance of this feedback has only recently been explored, but among its possible functions are influences on the processing of sensory features, synchronization of thalamic firing, and transitions in response mode of thalamic relay cells. Uncontrolled, corticothalamic feedback has also been implicated in pathological thalamic rhythms associated with certain neurological disorders. We have found a form of presynaptic inhibition of corticothalamic synaptic transmission that is mediated by a Group II metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR) and activated by high-frequency corticothalamic activity. We tested putative retinogeniculate and corticogeniculate synapses for Group II mGluR modulation within the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus of the ferret thalamus. Stimulation of optic-tract fibers elicited paired-pulse depression of excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs), whereas stimulation of the optic radiations elicited paired-pulse facilitation. Paired-pulse responses were subsequently used to characterize the pathway of origin of stimulated synapses. Group II mGluR agonists (LY379268 and DCG-IV) applied to thalamic neurons under voltage-clamp conditions reduced the amplitude of corticogeniculate EPSCs. Stimulation with high-frequency trains produced a facilitating response that was reduced by Group II mGluR agonists, but was enhanced by the selective antagonist LY341495, revealing a presynaptic, mGluR-mediated reduction of high-frequency corticogeniculate feedback. Agonist treatment did not affect EPSCs from stimulation of the optic tract. NAAG (reported to be selective for mGluR3) was ineffective at the corticogeniculate synapse, implicating mGluR2 in the observed effects. Our data are the first to show a synaptically elicited form of presynaptic inhibition of corticothalamic synaptic transmission that is mediated by presynaptic action of mGluR2. This presynaptic inhibition may partially mute sensory feedback and prevent reentrant excitation from initiating abnormal thalamic rhythms.

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