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Exp Physiol. 2007 May;92(3):499-505. Epub 2007 Mar 9.

Neurophysiological characterization of mammalian osmosensitive neurones.

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Centre for Research in Neuroscience, Montreal General Hospital and McGill University, 1650 Cedar Avenue, Montreal QC, Canada H3G 1A4.


In mammals, the osmolality of the extracellular fluid is maintained near a predetermined set-point through a negative feedback regulation of thirst, diuresis, salt appetite and natriuresis. This homeostatic control is believed to be mediated by osmosensory neurones which synaptically regulate the electrical activity of command neurones that mediate each of these osmoregulatory effector responses. Our present understanding of the molecular, cellular and network basis that underlies the central control of osmoregulation is largely derived from studies on primary osmosensory neurones in the organum vasculosum lamina terminalis (OVLT) and effector neurones in the supraoptic nucleus (SON), which release hormones that regulate diuresis and natriuresis. Primary osmosensory neurones in the OVLT exhibit changes in action potential firing rate that vary in proportion with ECF osmolality. This effect results from the intrinsic depolarizing receptor potential which these cells generate via a molecular transduction complex that may comprise various members of the transient receptor potential vanilloid (TRPV) family of cation channel proteins, notably TRPV1 and TRPV4. Osmotically evoked changes in the firing rate of OVLT neurones then regulate the electrical activity of downstream neurones in the SON through graded changes in glutamate release.

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