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Exp Neurol. 2001 Dec;172(2):446-59.

Influence of serotonin on the glutamate-induced excitations of secondary vestibular neurons in the rat.

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Department of Physiological Sciences, University of Catania, Catania, Italy.


The excitatory responses evoked by glutamate and its agonists in secondary vestibular neurons of the rat were studied during microiontophoretic application of 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT). Ejection of 5-HT modified neuronal responsiveness to glutamate in 86% of the studied units, the effect being a depression of the excitatory responses in two-thirds of cases and an enhancement in the remaining third. 5-HT was also effective in modifying 94% of the responses evoked by N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA), inducing a depressive effect in 76% of cases and an enhancement in the remaining ones. Quisqualate-evoked effects were depressed and enhanced by 5-HT in about the same number of cases; in contrast, kainate-evoked responses were enhanced. The depressive action of 5-HT was mimicked by application of alpha-methyl-5-hydroxytryptamine (alpha-Me-5-HT), a 5-HT(2) receptor agonist, whereas the enhancing effect could be evoked by application of 8-hydroxy-2(di-n-propylamino)tetralin (8-OH-DPAT), a selective 5-HT(1A) receptor agonist. The 5-HT(2) receptor antagonist ketanserin was able to reduce, but not to block totally, the depressive action of 5-HT on glutamate- or NMDA-evoked responses. No significant difference was detected between neuronal responses in the lateral and the superior vestibular nucleus. These results indicate that 5-HT is able to modulate the responsiveness of secondary vestibular neurons to excitatory amino acids. Its action is mostly depressive, involves 5-HT(2) receptors, and is exerted on NMDA receptors. A minor involvement of other 5-HT receptors (at least 5-HT(1A)) and other glutamate receptors (for quisqualate and kainate) in the modulatory action of 5-HT is plausible.

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