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Neuron. 1997 Nov;19(5):1103-14.

Plasticity in fast synaptic inhibition of adult oxytocin neurons caused by switch in GABA(A) receptor subunit expression.

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  • 1Membrane Physiology Section, Research Institute Neurosciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


We found that magnocellular oxytocin neurons in adult female rats exhibit an endogenous GABA(A) receptor subunit switch around parturition: a decrease in alpha1:alpha2 subunit mRNA ratio correlated with a decrease in allopregnanolone potentiation and increase in decay time constant of the GABA(A) receptor-mediated IPSCs in these cells. The causal relationship between changes in alpha1:alpha2 mRNA ratio and the ion channel kinetics was confirmed using in vitro antisense deletion. Further, GABA(A) receptors exhibited a tonic inhibitory influence upon oxytocin release in vivo, and allopregnanolone helped to restrain oxytocin neuron in vitro firing only before parturition, when the alpha1:alpha2 subunit mRNA ratio was still high. Such observations provide evidence for the physiological significance of GABA(A) receptor subunit heterogeneity and plasticity in the adult brain.

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