Send to

Choose Destination
J Physiol. 1983 Jun;339:309-24.

The role of 5-hydroxytryptamine as a transmitter between identified leech neurones in culture.


The synthesis, storage, release and synaptic actions of 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT or serotonin) were studied in order to characterize the synaptic connexion that develops between pairs of identified neurones dissected from the central nervous system of the leech and maintained in culture. Experiments were made with Retzius cells (which are known to contain 5-HT in vivo) and pressure sensory neurones on which they form chemical synapses in culture. Individual, isolated Retzius cells in culture synthesized [3H]5-HT from either [3H]tryptophan or [3H]5-hydroxytryptophan [( 3H]5-HTP). These cells did not synthesize other putative neurotransmitters, such as acetylcholine, dopamine, octopamine, noradrenaline or gamma-aminobutyric acid from their respective precursors. The monoaminergic character of Retzius cells was also demonstrated by staining with Neutral Red and by histofluorescence. Individual, isolated Retzius cells that had synthesized and accumulated [3H]5-HT released this compound when depolarized. Transmitter release was calcium-dependent and was blocked by magnesium. When incubated with [3H]5-HT and washed, Retzius cells in culture accumulated approximately 100 times more labelled 5-HT than did non-serotonergic cells, and 10 times more than Retzius cell somata acutely isolated from the animal and incubated in vitro. Chlorimipramine, a blocker of 5-HT uptake, decreased the amount of [3H]5-HT accumulated by Retzius cells and also caused a reversible increase in the amplitude of the synaptic response in the pressure sensory cell elicited by stimulation of the Retzius cell. Pressure sensory neurones in culture and in vivo responded to 5-HT focally applied by pressure ejection from a micropipette. Small pulses elicited a small, slow hyperpolarization. This response was due, at least in part, to an increase in chloride conductance and desensitized rapidly. With larger pulses, a larger, faster non-desensitizing depolarization was elicited. Together, these results provide evidence that 5-HT released from Retzius cells could be responsible for the chemical synaptic potentials seen in pressure sensory neurones in culture.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center