Early compensation of vestibulo-oculomotor symptoms after unilateral vestibular loss in rats is related to GABA(B) receptor function

A K Magnusson, M Ulfendahl, R Tham
Neuroscience 2002, 111 (3): 625-34
The horizontal vestibulo-oculomotor reflex was studied in pigmented rats during the first 5 days after a unilateral chemical or surgical vestibular deafferentation. Spontaneous eye movements in darkness and slow phase velocity gain of compensatory eye movements during horizontal sinusoidal rotation were evaluated. The most evident vestibulo-oculomotor symptom immediately after a unilateral vestibular loss was a spontaneous nystagmus, which gradually abated during the following days. Further, an asymmetry between ipsi- and contra-lesional gains was evident during sinusoidal vestibular stimulation. Single systemic doses of the GABA(B) receptor antagonist [3-[1-(S)-[[3-(cyclohexylmethyl)-hydroxyphosphinoyl]-2-(S)-hydroxypropyl]amino]ethyl]-benzoic acid (CGP 56433A), the agonist baclofen, or the GABA(A) receptor agonist (4,5,6,7-tetrahydroisoxazolo-[5,4-c]-pyridin-3-ol (THIP) were given at different intervals after unilateral vestibular deafferentation. CGP 56433A highly aggravated the vestibulo-oculomotor symptoms, observed as an increase in spontaneous nystagmus and slow phase velocity gain asymmetry. This effect was most pronounced during the first 2 days after unilateral vestibular loss, when CGP 56433A even decompensated the vestibular system to the extent that all vestibular responses were abolished. Baclofen caused no effect during the first days after unilateral vestibular loss, but in parallel with the abatement of spontaneous nystagmus, the drug equilibrated or even reversed the remaining spontaneous nystagmus with corresponding effects on the slow-phase velocity gain asymmetry. The effects of baclofen were very similar after both chemical and surgical deafferentation. THIP caused a slight depression of all vestibular responses. All single dose effects of the drugs were transient. Altogether these results reveal that endogenous stimulation of GABA(B) receptors in GABA-ergic vestibulo-oculomotor circuits are important for reducing the vestibular asymmetry during the early period after unilateral vestibular deafferentation. A possible role for GABA(B) receptors in the reciprocal inhibitory commissural pathways in the vestibular nuclei is suggested.

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