Dynamics of sensory afferent synaptic transmission in aortic baroreceptor regions of nucleus tractus solitarius

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Abstract

1. Synaptic responses of medial nucleus tractus solitarius (mNTS) neurons to solitary tract (ST) activation were studied in a horizontal brain slice preparation of the rat medulla. Slices included sections of ST sufficiently long that the ST could be electrically activated several millimeters from the recording site of cell bodies in mNTS. 2. Three types of synaptic events were evoked in response to ST stimulation: simple excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs), simple inhibitory postsynaptic potentials (IPSPs), and complex EPSP-IPSP sequences. Simple EPSPs had substantially shorter latencies than IPSPs (3.39 ± 0.65 ms, mean ± SE, n = 42, vs. 5,86 ± 0.71 ms. n = 6, respectively). 3. EPSP amplitude increased linearly with increasing hyperpolarization, with an extrapolated reversal potential near 0 mV. 4. EPSPs were maximal at 85% at 100 Hz). Between 5 and 10 Hz, this periodic stimulation-suppression cycle clearly entrained action potential activity to the ST stimuli. Similar patterns of current pulses (5 ms) reliably evoked action potentials with each pulse to higher frequencies (50 Hz) without failures, and entrainment was similar to ST stimulation. 7. In a subset of nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS) neurons (3 of 9 studied), bursts of ST stimuli were as much as 50% more effective at transmitting high frequencies (>10 Hz) of ST stimulation than the equivalent constant frequencies (P <0.0001). 8. The long-latency simple IPSPs with no preceding EPSPs reversed to become depolarizing at potentials more negative than 62.9 ± 7.0 mV (n = 5) and were blocked by the non-N-methyl-D-aspartate antagonist 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (n = 3). The ST stimulation frequency- response relation of these IPSPs was similar to that for the short-latency EPSP response excited by ST synapses. Thus these IPSPs appear to be activated polysynaptically via a glutamatergic-GABAergic sequence in response to ST activation. 9. The results suggest that sensory afferent synapses in mNTS have limited transmission of high-frequency inputs. Both synaptic transmission and the characteristics of the postsynaptic neuron importantly contribute to the action potential transmission from afferent to NTS neuron and beyond. This overall frequency response limitation may contribute to the accommodation of reflex responses from sensory afferent inputs such as arterial baroreceptors within their physiological discharge frequency range.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1518-1528
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Volume74
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1995

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Neuroscience(all)

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