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J Neurosci. 2006 Sep 20;26(38):9666-72.

Vanilloid-mediated heterosynaptic facilitation of inhibitory synaptic input to neurons of the rat dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus.

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Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Division of Neurobiology, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana 70118, USA.


Vanilloid type-1 receptors (VR1) are abundant in the dorsal vagal complex, where their function is mostly unknown. We examined the role of VR1 in regulating synaptic inputs to neurons of the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus (DMV). Using patch-clamp recordings from DMV neurons in brainstem slices, capsaicin was found to increase action potential-independent inhibitory input onto DMV neurons. This rapid effect was mimicked by application of the endogenous cannabinoid, anandamide and blocked by VR1 antagonists. The VR1-mediated facilitation of synaptic inhibition was reduced by ionotropic and metabotropic glutamate receptor antagonists, suggesting an indirect, heterosynaptic enhancement of GABA release caused by a VR1-mediated increase in glutamate release from presynaptic terminals of excitatory neurons. Application of L-glutamate also increased GABA release. The paired-pulse ratio was increased for IPSCs evoked after electrical stimulation of the nucleus tractus solitarius, but the effect was slower than for the enhancement of spontaneous and miniature IPSCs. Capsaicin also increased the frequency of glutamatergic postsynaptic currents in a VR1-mediated manner. Results of these studies suggest that VR1-containing glutamatergic terminals contact DMV neurons. Activation of VR1 potently enhances glutamate release onto GABAergic terminals, facilitating GABA release. Endogenous cannabinoids can thereby rapidly enhance inhibitory input to DMV neurons via VR1-mediated presynaptic mechanisms.

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