Aminergic control of neuronal firing rate in thalamic motor nuclei of the rat.

C. Grasso, G. Li Volsi, F. Licata, L. Ciranna, F. Santangelo


The effects induced on neuronal firing by microiontophoretic application of the biological amines noradrenaline (NA) and 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) were studied in vivo in ventral-anterior (VA) and ventrolateral (VL) thalamic motor nuclei of anaesthetized rats. In both nuclei the amines had a mostly depressive action on neuronal firing rate, the percentage of units responsive to NA application (88%) being higher than to 5-HT (72%). Short-lasting (less than 2 min) and long lasting (up to 20 min) inhibitory responses were recorded, the former mostly evoked by NA and the latter by 5-HT ejection. In some cases 5-HT application had no effect on the firing rate but modified the firing pattern. NA-evoked responses were significantly more intense in VL than in VA neurons. Short-lasting inhibitory responses similar to NA-induced effects were evoked by the alpha2 adrenergic receptor agonist clonidine and to a lesser extent by the beta adrenergic receptor agonist isoproterenol. Inhibitory responses to 5-HT were partially mimicked by application of the 5-HT(1A) receptor agonist 8-hydroxy-2(di-n-propylamino)tetralin (8-OH-DPAT) and of the 5-HT2 receptor agonist alpha-methyl-5-hydroxytryptamine (ALPHA-MET-5-HT). The latter evoked excitatory responses in some cases. Both 5-HT agonists were more effective on VA than on VL neurons. The effects evoked by agonists were at least partially blocked by respective antagonists. These results suggest that although both 5-HT and NA depress neuronal firing rate, their effects differ in time course and in the amount of inhibition; besides aminergic modulation is differently exerted on VA and VL.

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