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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Muscarinic and nicotinic presynaptic modulation of EPSCs in the nucleus accumbens during postnatal development.

We have studied the modulatory effects of cholinergic agonists on excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) in nucleus accumbens (nAcb) neurons during postnatal development. Recordings were obtained in slices from postnatal day 1 (P1) to P27 rats using the whole cell patch-clamp technique. EPSCs were evoked by local electrical stimulation, and all experiments were conducted in the presence of bicuculline methchloride in the bathing medium and with QX-314 in the recording pipette. Under these conditions, postsynaptic currents consisted of glutamatergic EPSCs typically consisting of two components mediated by AMPA/kainate (KA) and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. The addition of acetylcholine (ACh) or carbachol (CCh) to the superfusing medium resulted in a decrease of 30-60% of both AMPA/KA- and NMDA-mediated EPSCs. In contrast, ACh produced an increase ( approximately 35%) in both AMPA/KA and NMDA receptor-mediated EPSCs when administered in the presence of the muscarinic antagonist atropine. These excitatory effects were mimicked by the nicotinic receptor agonist 1,1-dimethyl-4-phenyl-piperazinium iodide (DMPP) and blocked by the nicotinic receptor antagonist mecamylamine, showing the presence of a cholinergic modulation mediated by nicotinic receptors in the nAcb. The antagonistic effects of atropine were mimicked by pirenzepine, suggesting that the muscarinic depression of the EPSCs was mediated by M(1)/M(4) receptors. In addition, the inhibitory effects of ACh on NMDA but not on AMPA/KA receptor-mediated EPSC significantly increased during the first two postnatal weeks. We found that, under our experimental conditions, cholinergic agonists produced no changes on membrane holding currents, on the decay time of the AMPA/KA EPSC, or on responses evoked by exogenous application of glutamate in the presence of tetrodotoxin, but they produced significant changes in paired pulse ratio, suggesting that their action was mediated by presynaptic mechanisms. In contrast, CCh produced consistent changes in the membrane and firing properties of medium spiny (MS) neurons when QX-314 was omitted from the recording pipette solution, suggesting that this substance actually blocked postsynaptic cholinergic modulation. Together, these results suggest that ACh can decrease or increase glutamatergic neurotransmission in the nAcb by, respectively, acting on muscarinic and nicotinic receptors located on excitatory terminals. The cholinergic modulation of AMPA/KA and NMDA receptor-mediated neurotransmission in the nAcb during postnatal development could play an important role in activity-dependent developmental processes in refining the excitatory drive on MS neurons by gating specific inputs.[1]


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