Serotonin potentiates sympathetic responses evoked by spinal NMDA

Christopher J. Madden, Shaun F. Morrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


In urethane-chloralose anaesthetized, neuromuscularly blocked, ventilated rats, we examined the effects on sympathetic outflow to brown adipose tissue (BAT) of separate and simultaneous spinal microinjections of NMDA and serotonin. Microinjection of NMDA (12 pmol) into the right T4 spinal intermediolateral nucleus (IML) immediately increased ipsilateral brown adipose tissue (BAT) sympathetic nerve activity (SNA; peak: +546% of control), BAT thermogenesis (+0.8°C) and heart rate (+53 beats min-1), whereas microinjection of a lower dose of NMDA (1.2 pmol) did not change any of the recorded variables. Microinjection of 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT, 2 nmol) into the T4 IML increased BAT SNA (peak: +342% of control) at a long latency (mean onset: 23min). The long latency 5-HT-evoked increase in BAT SNA was prevented by microinjection of methysergide (600 pmol) into the T4 IML. The increases in BAT SNA evoked by T4 IML microinjections of NMDA (12 pmol) were significantly potentiated (two to three times larger than the response to NMDA alone) following T4 IML microinjections of 5-HT (100 pmol to 2 nmol, but not 20 pmol). Also, microinjection of 5-HT (200 pmol) converted the subthreshold dose of NMDA (1.2 pmol) into an effective dose for increasing BAT SNA and heart rate. The 5-HT-mediated potentiation of the increase in BAT SNA evoked by microinjection of NMDA into the T4 IML was reversed by microinjection of methysergide (600 pmol) into the T4 IML. These results demonstrate that BAT SNA and thermogenesis can be driven by activation of spinal excitatory amino acid or 5-HT receptors and that concomitant activation of spinal NMDA and 5-HT receptors can act synergistically to markedly increase BAT SNA and thermogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)525-537
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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