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Exp Brain Res. 1992;88(3):466-72.

Tonic activity of rat medial vestibular nucleus neurones in vitro and its inhibition by GABA.

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Department of Physiology, Medical School, Edinburgh, UK.


The spontaneous discharge of 48 medial vestibular nucleus (MVN) neurones was recorded extracellularly in horizontal slices of the rat brainstem in vitro. The mean tonic rate of discharge was 17.1 +/- 8.2 imp/s, similar to that observed by others in transverse (coronal) slices of the rat and guinea pig MVN. The tonic rate of discharge of individual MVN cells either increased or decreased after synaptic blockade in low Ca2+ media, suggesting that ongoing synaptic activity has an important influence on the spontaneous activity of MVN cells in vitro. However the persistence of tonic activity after synaptic blockade indicates that an intrinsic, pacemaker-like mechanism is involved in the generation of the tonic activity. GABA, muscimol, baclofen and 3-APA inhibited the tonic activity of all MVN cells tested. Bicuculline antagonised, and picrotoxin blocked, the inhibitory responses to muscimol, but the effects of GABA were only partially blocked in 50 microM picrotoxin. The effects of baclofen and 3-APA persisted in low Ca2+ media, and were antagonised by saclofen and phaclofen. Picrotoxin-resistant responses to GABA persisted in low Ca2+ media, and were also antagonised by saclofen. These results suggest that the inhibitory control of MVN neurones by GABA involves both the GABAA and GABAB subtypes of GABA receptor. GABAB receptors appear to be distributed both pre- and post-synaptically in the rat MVN. The possible significance of the intrinsic, tonic activity of MVN cells in normal vestibular function and in vestibular compensation, and the effects of GABA, are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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