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J Comp Physiol A. 1990 Nov;167(5):665-71.

Leydig neuron activity modulates heartbeat in the medicinal leech.

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Arizona Research Laboratories, Division of Neurobiology, University of Arizona, Tucson 85721.


1. Leydig neurons fire spontaneously at low rates (less than 4 Hz), but their activity increases with mechanical stimulation or electrical stimulation of mechanosensory neurons. These conditions also cause acceleration of bursting in heart motor neurons. 2. The firing rate of Leydig cells was found to regulate heart rate in chains of isolated ganglia. When Leydig neurons were made to fire action potentials at relatively high frequencies (ca. 5-10 Hz), however, heart motor neurons ceased bursting and were either silenced or fired erratically. 3. Firing of Leydig neurons at high rates caused bilateral heart interneurons of ganglia 3 or 4 to fire tonically rather than in their normal alternating bursts Tonic firing of these heart interneurons accounts for the prolonged barrages of ipsps recorded in heart motor neurons and the disruption of their normal cyclic activity. 4. Preventing spontaneous activity of Leydig neurons with injected currents in isolated ganglia caused deceleration of the heartbeat rhythm but did not halt oscillation. 5. Electrical stimulation of peripheral nerve roots with Leydig neuron activity suppressed in isolated ganglia caused acceleration of heart rate.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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