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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2010 Jul;299(1):R129-39. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00391.2009. Epub 2010 Feb 17.

Reduction in synaptic GABA release contributes to target-selective elevation of PVN neuronal activity in rats with myocardial infarction.

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Laboratories of Veterinary Pharmacology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea.


Neuronal activity in the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) is known to be elevated in rats with heart failure. However, the type of neurons involved and the underlying synaptic mechanisms remain unknown. Here we examined spontaneous firing activity and synaptic currents in presympathetic PVN neurons in rats with myocardial infarction (MI), using slice patch clamp combined with the retrograde labeling technique. In PVN neurons projecting to the rostral ventrolateral medulla (PVN-RVLM), MI induced a significant increase in basal firing rate (1.79 to 3.02 Hz, P < 0.05) and a reduction in the frequency of spontaneous (P < 0.05) and miniature (P < 0.01) inhibitory postsynaptic currents (IPSCs). In addition, MI induced an increase in the paired-pulse ratio of evoked IPSCs (P < 0.05). Bicuculline, a GABA(A) receptor antagonist, increased the firing rate of PVN-RVLM neurons in sham-operated (1.21 to 2.74 Hz, P < 0.05) but not MI (P > 0.05) rats. In contrast, in PVN neurons projecting to the intermediolateral horn of the spinal cord (PVN-IML), MI did not induce any significant changes in the basal firing rate and the properties of spontaneous and miniature IPSCs. The properties of spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) were not altered in either neuron group. In conclusion, our results indicate that MI induces an elevation of firing activity in PVN-RVLM but not in PVN-IML neurons and that the elevated firing rate is largely due to a decrease in GABA release. These results provide evidence for a novel target-selective synaptic plasticity in the PVN that is associated with the sympathetic hyperactivity commonly seen in heart failure.

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