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J Physiol. 1987 Mar;384:603-18.

On the excitatory post-synaptic potential evoked by stimulation of the optic tract in the rat lateral geniculate nucleus.

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Department of Pharmacology, St. George's Hospital Medical School, London.


1. The electrophysiological and pharmacological properties of the excitatory post-synaptic potentials (e.p.s.p.) evoked by electrical stimulation of the optic tract were studied in projection neurones of the ventral and dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (l.g.n.) of the rat in vitro. 2. No difference was found in the rise time of e.p.s.p.s. recorded in the dorsal and ventral l.g.n. and in their threshold for action potentials. At membrane potentials more negative than -60 mV, e.p.s.p.s. in the dorsal l.g.n. were always followed by a Ca2+-dependent potential. Its amplitude could easily reach threshold for generating an action potential and thus evoke firing from an e.p.s.p. that was subthreshold at resting potential. No Ca2+ potential was observed to follow e.p.s.p.s. recorded in the ventral l.g.n. 3. At resting potential the excitability of dorsal and ventral cells was unaffected following an initial shock to the optic tract. However, in dorsal neurones, at potentials more negative than -60 mV, the presence of Ca2+ potentials evoked by the e.p.s.p.s. resulted in a period of decreased excitability. 4. Using intrasomatic injection of Cs+ the reversal potential (E) of the e.p.s.p. and of the depolarization produced by glutamate could be measured in the same l.g.n. neurone. They were: Eepsp, -0.9 mV; and Eglut, -3.9 mV. 5. gamma-D-glutamylglycine (DGG), an excitatory amino acid antagonist, reversibly inhibited the e.p.s.p. and depolarization produced by quisqualate and glutamate by a competitive action. The concentration of DGG that produced 50% inhibition (IC50) was 2.7 mM. 6. D-2-amino-5-phosphonovalerate (APV), the potent and selective N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonist, had no effect on the e.p.s.p. both in the presence and absence of Mg2+. The isomers of 2-amino-4-phosphonobutyrate (APB) were inactive or had a non-specific action on the e.p.s.p. 7. No difference could be detected in either the reversal potential or the action of the antagonists between neurones of the dorsal and the ventral l.g.n. 8. These results suggest that Ca2+-dependent potentials play an important role in modulating synaptic efficacy in principal neurones of the dorsal l.g.n. The quisqualate/kainate nature of the optic nerve receptors and the similarity of Eepsp and Eglut constitute strong support in favour of a glutamate-like substance as the transmitter of the optic nerve.

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