Acetylcholine and norepinephrine mediate GABAergic but not glycinergic transmission enhancement by melittin in adult rat substantia gelatinosa neurons

Tao Liu, Tsugumi Fujita, Eiichi Kumamoto
Journal of Neurophysiology 2011, 106 (1): 233-46
GABAergic and glycinergic inhibitory synaptic transmissions in substantia gelatinosa (SG; lamina II of Rexed) neurons of the spinal dorsal horn play an important role in regulating nociceptive transmission from the periphery. It has not yet been well known whether each of the inhibitory transmissions plays a distinct role in the regulation. We report an involvement of neurotransmitters in GABAergic but not glycinergic transmission enhancement produced by the PLA(2) activator melittin, where the whole-cell patch-clamp technique is applied to the SG neurons of adult rat spinal cord slices. Glycinergic but not GABAergic spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic current (sIPSC) was increased in frequency and amplitude by melittin in the presence of nicotinic, muscarinic acetylcholine, and α(1)-adrenergic receptor antagonists (mecamylamine, atropine, and WB-4101, respectively). GABAergic transmission enhancement produced by melittin was unaffected by the 5-hydroxytryptamine 3 receptor and P2X receptor antagonists (ICS-205,930 and pyridoxalphosphate-6-azophenyl-2',4'-disulphonic acid, respectively). Nicotinic and muscarinic acetylcholine receptor agonists [(-)-nicotine and carbamoylcholine, respectively] and norepinephrine, as well as melittin, increased GABAergic sIPSC frequency and amplitude. A repeated application of (-)-nicotine, carbamoylcholine, and norepinephrine, but not melittin, at an interval of 30 min produced a similar transmission enhancement. These results indicate that melittin produces the release of acetylcholine and norepinephrine, which activate (nicotinic and muscarinic) acetylcholine and α(1)-adrenergic receptors, respectively, resulting in GABAergic but not glycinergic transmission enhancement in SG neurons. The desensitization of a system leading to the acetylcholine and norepinephrine release is slow in recovery. This distinction in modulation between GABAergic and glycinergic transmissions may play a role in regulating nociceptive transmission.

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