Pre- and postsynaptic GABA(B) receptors modulate rapid neurotransmission from suprachiasmatic nucleus to parvocellular hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus neurons

D Wang, L-N Cui, L P Renaud
Neuroscience 2003, 118 (1): 49-58
The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), the dominant circadian pacemaker in mammalian brain, sends axonal projections to the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN), a composite of magno- and parvocellular neurons. This neural network likely offers SCN output neurons a means to entrain diurnal rhythmicity in various autonomic and neuroendocrine functions. Earlier investigations using patch-clamp recordings in slice preparations have suggested differential innervation by SCN efferents to magnocellular versus parvocellular PVN cells. In magnocellular PVN, cells respond to focal electrical stimulation in SCN with a GABA(A) receptor-mediated postsynaptic inhibition whose magnitude can be modulated by presynaptic GABA(B) receptors. By contrast, SCN-evoked responses in parvocellular PVN neurons typically involve both GABA(A)- and glutamate-receptor-mediated components. In the present patch-clamp study, 69/85 periventricular parvocellular PVN cells displayed SCN-evoked inhibitory and/or excitatory postsynaptic currents (IPSCs; EPSCs). In the presence of selective receptor antagonists, we sought evidence for their modulation by GABA acting at pre- and/or postsynaptic GABA(B) receptors. Cells responded to bath-applied baclofen (5-10 microM) with a tetrodotoxin-resistant membrane hyperpolarization associated with a reduction in input resistance and/or outward current, due to increase in a potassium conductance, blockable with 2-hydroxysaclofen (300 microM). At 1 microM where baclofen had no significant postsynaptic effect, evidence of activation of presynaptic GABA(B) receptors included reduction in SCN-evoked IPSCs and EPSCs with no change in their kinetics, and paired-pulse depression that was sensitive to both baclofen and saclofen. Baclofen also induced significant reductions in frequency but not amplitudes of miniature IPSCs and EPSCs. These observations suggest that levels of synaptically released GABA from the terminals of SCN output neurons can influence the relative contribution of pre- versus postsynaptic GABA(B) receptors in modulating both excitatory and inhibitory SCN innervation to parvocellular PVN neurons.

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