Noradrenaline excites non-cholinergic laterodorsal tegmental neurons via two distinct mechanisms

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Cholinergic neurons of the laterodorsal tegmental nucleus have been hypothesized to play a critical role in the-generation and maintenance of rapid eye movement sleep. Less is known about the function of non-cholinergic laterodorsal tegmental nucleus neurons. As part of our ongoing studies of the brainstem circuitry controlling behavioral state, we have begun to investigate the functional properties of these neurons. In the course of these experiments, we have observed a novel response to the neurotransmitter noradrenaline. Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings of laterodorsal tegmental nucleus neurons were carried out in 21- to 35-day-old rat brain slices. A subpopulation of laterodorsal tegmental nucleus cells responded to a 30-s application of 50 microM noradrenaline with depolarization and a decrease in input resistance which lasted several minutes. Following return to resting membrane potential, these cells invariably exhibited barrages of excitatory postsynaptic potentials which lasted at least 12 min. These excitatory postsynaptic potentials were reversibly abolished by bath application of tetrodotoxin, as well as by the non-N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione, but were insensitive to application of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist 2-amino-5-phosphonopentanoic acid. To examine whether these neurons were cholinergic, the recorded cells were labeled with biocytin and tested for co-localization with reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate-diaphorase, a marker for laterodorsal tegmental nucleus cholinergic neurons. In every instance, neurons with these properties were non-cholinergic. However, they were always located in close proximity to reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate-diaphorase-positive laterodorsal tegmental nucleus cells. The present data indicate that noradrenaline, in addition to directly inhibiting cholinergic cells of the laterodorsal tegmental nucleus, also results in the direct and indirect excitation of non-cholinergic cells of the laterodorsal tegmental nucleus. The indirect excitation is long lasting and mediated by glutamatergic mechanisms. Our working hypothesis is that these non-cholinergic cells are local circuit inhibitory interneurons and that prolonged excitation of these neurons by noradrenaline may serve as a mechanism for inhibition of cholinergic laterodorsal tegmental nucleus cells during wakefulness, when noradrenaline tone is high.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)619-30
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • 6-Cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione, Acetylcholine, Adrenergic alpha-Agonists, Animals, Behavior, Animal, Electric Stimulation, Electrophysiology, Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists, Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials, Female, Histamine Release, Histocytochemistry, Male, Membrane Potentials, Neurons, Norepinephrine, Parasympathetic Nervous System, Patch-Clamp Techniques, Rats, Rats, Wistar, Tegmentum Mesencephali, Tetrodotoxin

ID: 38346668