- About us
- Scientific meetings
- Grants and funding
- Meetings grants
- Travel grants
- Departmental seminar scheme
- Outreach grants
- Public engagement grants
- Support for undergraduates
- Benevolent fund
- International grants
- Paton Prize Bursary
- Research grants
- Teaching grants
- Education and resources
- Higher education workshops
- Postgraduate / early career
- Media library
- Techniques workshops
- Physiology jobs
- In vivo short courses
- Rob Clarke Awards
- Press centre
- Public engagement
Skeletal muscle mitochondrial dysfunction during chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: central actor and therapeutic target
Muscle dysfunction is a common complication and an important prognostic factor in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). As therapeutic strategies are still needed to treat this complication, gaining more insight into the process that leads to skeletal muscle decline in COPD appears to be an important issue. This review focuses on mitochondrial involvement in limb skeletal muscle alterations (decreased muscle mass, strength, endurance and power and increased fatigue) in COPD. Mitochondria are the main source of energy for the cells; they are involved in production of reactive oxygen species and activate an important pathway that leads to apoptosis. In COPD patients, skeletal muscles are characterized by decreased mitochondrial density and biogenesis, impaired activity and coupling of mitochondrial respiratory chain complexes, increased mitochondrial production of reactive oxygen species and, possibly, increased apoptosis. Of particular interest, a sedentary lifestyle, hypoxia, hypercapnia, tobacco smoking, corticosteroid therapy and, possibly, inflammation participate in this mitochondrial dysfunction, which is accessible to conventional therapies, such as exercise and tobacco cessation, as well as, potentially, to more innovative approaches, such as antioxidant treatment and supplementation with polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Viscerosympathetic reflexes in human spinal cord injury: relationships between detrusor pressure, blood pressure and skin blood flow during bladder distension
Autonomic dysreflexia, a dangerous and sustained increase in blood pressure brought about by widespread, reflexly generated vasoconstriction, can be induced by visceral or somatic sensory inputs originating below the lesion following spinal cord injury (SCI). We assessed whether cutaneous vasoconstriction below the lesion could serve as a proxy marker of incipient autonomic dysreflexia during bladder distension. Skin blood flow (pulse plethysmography), sweat release, blood pressure, heart rate, bladder and rectal pressures were recorded during routine cystometry (urodynamics) in 16 patients with SCI. Eight urological patients without SCI served as control subjects. In all SCI patients, who had sustained injuries 2 months to 44 years previously at levels C3–T3, bladder filling (mean ± SD, 339 ± 132 ml) induced increases in detrusor (bladder–rectal) pressure (52 ± 25 cmH2O) and cutaneous vasoconstriction in the fingers, but no consistent increases in sweat release. This occurred irrespective of whether the spinal lesions were complete [American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) grade A, n = 6] or incomplete (ASIA B–D; n = 10). Group mean blood pressure for the SCI patients increased by 17 ± 15 mmHg, but in four patients the pressure decreased or did not change. Despite similar bladder volumes (423 ± 126 ml) in the control patients, the increases in detrusor pressure (14 ± 8 cmH2O) and blood pressure (9 ± 12 mmHg) were significantly smaller than in the SCI patients; moreover, there were no consistent changes in skin blood flow in the control subjects. In all SCI patients, changes in finger pulse amplitudes were inversely correlated to changes in detrusor pressure (mean r = –0.62 ± 0.17). Changes in finger pulse amplitudes correlated inversely to changes in blood pressure in nine of 15 patients. It is concluded that cystometry in SCI patients is associated with detrusor and cardiovascular reflex effects that are exaggerated compared with those in intact subjects and that measurement of skin blood flow from the fingers in patients with a high spinal lesion provides a supplementary, clinically useful, non-invasive and continuous marker of spinally mediated viscerosympathetic reflex activity below the lesion in such patients.
Validation of admittance computed left ventricular volumes against real-time three-dimensional echocardiography in the porcine heart
The admittance and Wei's equation is a new technique for ventricular volumetry to determine pressure–volume relations that addresses traditional conductance-related issues of parallel conductance and field correction factor. These issues with conductance have prevented researchers from obtaining real-time absolute ventricular volumes. Moreover, the time-consuming steps involved in processing conductance catheter data warrant the need for a better catheter-based technique for ventricular volumetry. We aimed to compare the accuracy of left ventricular (LV) volumetry between the new admittance catheterization technique and transoesophageal real-time three-dimensional echocardiography (RT3DE) in a large-animal model. Eight anaesthetized pigs were used. A 7 French admittance catheter was positioned in the LV via the right carotid artery. The catheter was connected to an admittance control unit (ADVantage; Transonic Scisense Inc.), and data were recorded on a four-channel acquisition system (FA404; iWorx Systems). Admittance catheterization data and transoesophageal RT3DE (X7-2; Philips) data were simultaneously obtained with the animal ventilated, under neuromuscular blockade and monitored in baseline conditions and during dobutamine infusion. Left ventricular volumes measured from admittance catheterization (Labscribe; iWorx Systems) and RT3DE (Qlab; Philips) were compared. In a subset of four animals, admittance volumes were compared with those obtained from traditional conductance catheterization (MPVS Ultra; Millar Instruments). Of 37 sets of measurements compared, admittance- and RT3DE-derived LV volumes and ejection fractions at baseline and in the presence of dobutamine exhibited general agreement, with mean percentage intermethod differences of 10% for end-diastolic volumes, 14% for end-systolic volumes and 9% for ejection fraction; the respective intermethod differences between admittance and conductance in eight data sets compared were 11, 11 and 12%. Admittance volumes were generally higher than those obtained by RT3DE, especially among the larger ventricles. It is concluded that it is feasible to derive pressure–volume relations using admittance catheterization in large animals. This study demonstrated agreements between admittance and RT3DE to within 10–14% mean intermethod difference in the estimation of LV volumes. Further investigation will be required to examine the accuracy of volumes in largest ventricles, where intermethod divergence is greatest.
Sinusoidal high-intensity exercise does not elicit ventilatory limitation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
During exercise at critical power (CP) in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients, ventilation approaches its maximum. As a result of the slow ventilatory dynamics in COPD, ventilatory limitation during supramaximal exercise might be escaped using rapid sinusoidal forcing. Nine COPD patients [age, 60.2 ± 6.9 years; forced expiratory volume in the first second (FEV1), 42 ± 17% of predicted; and FEV1/FVC, 39 ± 12%] underwent an incremental cycle ergometer test and then four constant work rate cycle ergometer tests; tolerable duration (tlim) was recorded. Critical power was determined from constant work rate testing by linear regression of work rate versus 1/tlim. Patients then completed fast (FS; 60 s period) and slow (SS; 360 s period) sinusoidally fluctuating exercise tests with mean work rate at CP and peak at 120% of peak incremental test work rate, and one additional test at CP; each for a 20 min target. The value of tlim did not differ between CP (19.8 ± 0.6 min) and FS (19.0 ± 2.5 min), but was shorter in SS (13.2 ± 4.2 min; P < 0.05). The sinusoidal ventilatory amplitude was minimal (37.4 ± 34.9 ml min–1 W–1) during FS but much larger during SS (189.6 ± 120.4 ml min–1 W–1). The total ventilatory response in SS reached 110 ± 8.0% of the incremental test peak, suggesting ventilatory limitation. Slow components in ventilation during constant work rate and FS exercises were detected in most subjects and contributed appreciably to the total response asymptote. The SS exercise was associated with higher mid-exercise lactate concentrations (5.2 ± 1.7, 7.6 ± 1.7 and 4.5 ± 1.3 mmol l–1 in FS, SS and CP). Large-amplitude, rapid sinusoidal fluctuation in work rate yields little fluctuation in ventilation despite reaching 120% of the incremental test peak work rate. This high-intensity exercise strategy might be suitable for programmes of rehabilitative exercise training in COPD.
Deep hypothermia protects against acute hypoxia in vivo in rats: a mechanism related to the attenuation of oxidative stress
There is growing interest in using hypothermia to prevent hypoxic damage in clinical and experimental models, although the mechanisms regulated by hypothermia are still unclear. As reactive oxygen and nitrogen species are the main factors causing cellular damage, our objective was to study the scope of hypothermia in preventing hypoxia-induced oxidative damage. We analysed systemic and hepatic indicators of oxidative stress after an acute hypoxic insult (10% oxygen in breathing air) in normothermic (37°C body temperature) and hypothermic conditions (22°C) in rats. Exposure to hypoxia resulted in tissue damage (aspartate aminotransferase increased from 54.6 ± 6.9 U l–1 in control animals to 116 ± 1.9 U l–1 in hypoxia, and alanine aminotransferase increased from 19 ± 0.8 to 34 ± 2.9 U l–1), oxidative stress (nitric oxide metabolites increased from 10.8 ± 0.4 μm in control rats to 23 ± 2.7 μm in hypoxia, and thiobarbituric reactive substances increased from 3.3 ± 0.2 to 5.9 ± 0.4 nm) and antioxidant consumption (reduced/oxidized glutathione ratio changed from 9.8 ± 0.3 to 6.8 ± 0.3). In contrast, when hypothermia was applied prior to hypoxia, the situation was reversed, with a reduction in aspartate aminotransferase (from 116 ± 1.9 in hypoxic animals to 63 ± 7.8 U l–1 in animals exposed to hypothermia followed by hypoxia), alanine aminotransferase (from 34 ± 2.9 to 19 ± 0.9 U l–1), oxidative stress (nitric oxide metabolites decreased from 23 ± 2.7 to 17.8 ± 1.9 μm and thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances decreased from 5.9 ± 0.4 to 4.3 ± 0.2 nm) and antioxidant preservation (reduced/oxidized glutathione ratio changed from 6.8 ± 0.3 to 11.1 ± 0.1). Hypoxia induced a decrease in liver enzymatic antioxidant activities even during hypothermia. Both treatments, hypoxia and hypothermia, produced a similar increase in hepatic caspase-3 activity. In conclusion, hypothermia prevented the tissue damage and oxidative stress elicited by hypoxia. Our results provide new evidence concerning the protective mechanism of hypothermia in vivo.
Tonic muscle pain does not increase fusimotor drive to human leg muscles: implications for chronic muscle pain
Experimental pain induced in animals has shown that noxious stimulation of group III and IV afferents increases the firing of muscle spindles via a reflex excitation of fusimotor () motoneurones. Chronic muscle pain has been hypothesized to develop as a result of a vicious cycle involving this mechanism. In order to explore the effects of long-lasting muscle pain on the fusimotor system, single unit muscle spindle afferents were recorded from 15 subjects. Afferent activity was recorded from foot and ankle extensor muscles whilst infusing hypertonic saline into the tibialis anterior muscle of the ipsilateral leg, producing moderate–strong pain lasting for ~60 min. A change in fusimotor drive was inferred by observing changes in the mean discharge rate of spontaneously active muscle spindle afferents. Homonymous and heteronymous muscles remained relaxed and showed no increase in activity, arguing against any fusimotor-driven increase in motor activity, and there was no net change in the firing of muscle spindle afferents. We conclude that long-lasting stimulation of group III and IV afferents fails to excite fusimotor neurones and increase muscle spindle discharge. Accordingly, the vicious cycle theory has no functional basis for the development of myalgia in human subjects.
Chronotropic and pressor effects of water ingestion at rest and in response to incremental dynamic exercise
Ingestion of water attenuates the chronotropic response to submaximal exercise. However, it is not known whether this effect is equally manifested during dynamic exercise below and above the ventilatory threshold (VT). We explored the effects of water ingestion on the heart rate response to an incremental cycle-ergometer protocol. In a randomized fashion, 19 healthy adults (10 men and nine women, age 20.9 ± 1.8 years) ingested 50 and 500 ml of water before completing a cycle-ergometer protocol on two separate days. The heart rate and oxygen uptake ( ) responses to water ingestion were analysed both at rest and during exercise performed below and above the VT. The effects of water intake on brachial blood pressure were measured only at rest. Resting mean arterial pressure increased and resting heart rate decreased, but only after 500 ml of water (P < 0.05). Compared with that seen after 50 ml of water, the 500 ml volume elicited an overall decrease in submaximal heart rate (P < 0.05). In contrast, drinking 500 ml of water did not affect submaximal . The participants' maximal heart rate, maximal and VT were similar between conditions. Our results therefore indicate that, owing to its effects on submaximal heart rate over a broad spectrum of intensities, the drinking of water should be recognized as a potential confounder in cardiovascular exercise studies. However, by showing no differences between conditions for submaximal , they also suggest that the magnitude of heart rate reduction after drinking 500 ml of water may be of minimal physiological significance for exercise cardiorespiratory capacity.
Oscillatory common inputs of cortical or peripheral origin can be identified from the motor neuron output with coherence analysis. Linear transmission is possible despite the motor neuron non-linearity because the same input is sent commonly to several neurons. Because of the linear transmission, common input components to motor neurons can be investigated from the surface EMG, for example by EEG–EMG or EMG–EMG coherence. In these studies, there is an open debate on the utility and appropriateness of EMG rectification. The present study addresses this issue using an analytical, simulation and experimental approach. The main novel theoretical contribution that we report is that the spectra of both the rectified and the raw EMG contain input spectral components to motor neurons. However, they differ by the contribution of amplitude cancellation which influences the rectified EMG spectrum when extracting common oscillatory inputs. Therefore, the degree of amplitude cancellation has an impact on the effectiveness of EMG rectification in extracting input spectral peaks. The theoretical predictions were exactly confirmed by realistic simulations of a pool of motor neurons innervating a muscle in a cylindrical volume conductor of EMG generation and by experiments conducted on the first dorsal interosseous and the abductor pollicis brevis muscles of seven healthy subjects during pinching. It was concluded that when the contraction level is relatively low, EMG rectification may be preferable for identifying common inputs to motor neurons, especially when the energy of the action potentials in the low frequency range is low. Nonetheless, different levels of cancellation across conditions influence the relative estimates of the degree of linear transmission of oscillatory inputs to motor neurons when using the rectified EMG.
Dipeptidyl-peptidase-like-proteins confer high sensitivity to the scorpion toxin AmmTX3 to Kv4-mediated A-type K+ channels
K+ channels containing Kv4.2 and Kv4.3 pore-forming subunits mediate most of the subthreshold-operating somatodendritic A-type K+ current in CNS neurons. These channels are believed to be important in regulating the frequency of repetitive firing, the backpropagation of action potential into dendrites, and dendritic integration and plasticity. Moreover, they have been implicated in several diseases from pain to epilepsy and autism spectrum disorders. The lack of toxins that specifically and efficiently block these channels has hampered studies aimed at confirming their functional role and their involvement in disease. AmmTX3 and other related members of the -KTX15 family of scorpion toxins have been shown to block the A-type K+ current in cultured neurons, but their specificity has been questioned because the toxins do not efficiently block the currents mediated by Kv4.2 or Kv4.3 subunits expressed in heterologous cells. Here we show that the high-affinity blockade of Kv4.2 and Kv4.3 channels by AmmTX3 depends on the presence of the auxiliary subunits DPP6 and DPP10. These proteins are thought to be components of the Kv4 channel complex in neurons and to be important for channel expression in dendrites. These studies validate the use of AmmTX3 as a blocker of the Kv4-mediated A-type K+ current in neurons.
A functional role for both -aminobutyric acid (GABA) transporter-1 and GABA transporter-3 in the modulation of extracellular GABA and GABAergic tonic conductances in the rat hippocampus
Tonic -aminobutyric acid (GABA)A receptor-mediated signalling controls neuronal network excitability in the hippocampus. Although the extracellular concentration of GABA (e[GABA]) is critical in determining tonic conductances, knowledge on how e[GABA] is regulated by different GABA transporters (GATs) in vivo is limited. Therefore, we studied the role of GATs in the regulation of hippocampal e[GABA] using in vivo microdialysis in freely moving rats. Here we show that GAT-1, which is predominantly presynaptically located, is the major GABA transporter under baseline, quiescent conditions. Furthermore, a significant contribution of GAT-3 in regulating e[GABA] was revealed by administration of the GAT-3 inhibitor SNAP-5114 during simultaneous blockade of GAT-1 by NNC-711. Thus, the GABA transporting activity of GAT-3 (the expression of which is confined to astrocytes) is apparent under conditions in which GAT-1 is blocked. However, sustained neuronal activation by K+-induced depolarization caused a profound spillover of GABA into the extrasynaptic space and this increase in e[GABA] was significantly potentiated by sole blockade of GAT-3 (i.e. even when uptake of GAT-1 is intact). Furthermore, experiments using tetrodotoxin to block action potentials revealed that GAT-3 regulates extrasynaptic GABA levels from action potential-independent sources when GAT-1 is blocked. Importantly, changes in e[GABA] resulting from both GAT-1 and GAT-3 inhibition directly precipitate changes in tonic conductances in dentate granule cells as measured by whole-cell patch-clamp recording. Thus, astrocytic GAT-3 contributes to the regulation of e[GABA] in the hippocampus in vivo and may play an important role in controlling the excitability of hippocampal cells when network activity is increased.
Mitochondria and plasma membrane Ca2+-ATPase control presynaptic Ca2+ clearance in capsaicin-sensitive rat sensory neurons
The central processes of primary nociceptors form synaptic connections with the second-order nociceptive neurons located in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. These synapses gate the flow of nociceptive information from the periphery to the CNS, and plasticity at these synapses contributes to centrally mediated hyperalgesia and allodynia. Although exocytosis and synaptic plasticity are controlled by Ca2+ at the release sites, the mechanisms underlying presynaptic Ca2+ signalling at the nociceptive synapses are not well characterized. We examined the presynaptic mechanisms regulating Ca2+ clearance following electrical stimulation in capsaicin-sensitive nociceptors using a dorsal root ganglion (DRG)/spinal cord neuron co-culture system. Cytosolic Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) recovery following electrical stimulation was well approximated by a monoexponential function with a ~2 s. Inhibition of sarco-endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase did not affect presynaptic [Ca2+]i recovery, and blocking plasmalemmal Na+/Ca2+ exchange produced only a small reduction in the rate of [Ca2+]i recovery (~12%) that was independent of intracellular K+. However, [Ca2+]i recovery in presynaptic boutons strongly depended on the plasma membrane Ca2+-ATPase (PMCA) and mitochondria that accounted for ~47 and 40%, respectively, of presynaptic Ca2+ clearance. Measurements using a mitochondria-targeted Ca2+ indicator, mtPericam, demonstrated that presynaptic mitochondria accumulated Ca2+ in response to electrical stimulation. Quantitative analysis revealed that the mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake is highly sensitive to presynaptic [Ca2+]i elevations, and occurs at [Ca2+]i levels as low as ~200–300 nm. Using RT-PCR, we detected expression of several putative mitochondrial Ca2+ transporters in DRG, such as MCU, Letm1 and NCLX. Collectively, this work identifies PMCA and mitochondria as the major regulators of presynaptic Ca2+ signalling at the first sensory synapse, and underlines the high sensitivity of the mitochondrial Ca2+ uniporter in neurons to cytosolic Ca2+.
Complexins (Cplxs) are small, SNARE-associated proteins believed to regulate fast, calcium-triggered exocytosis. However, studies have pointed to either an inhibitory and/or facilitatory role in exocytosis, and the role of Cplxs in synchronizing exocytosis is relatively unexplored. Here, we compare the function of two types of complexin, Cplx 1 and 2, in two model systems of calcium-dependent exocytosis. In mouse neuromuscular junctions (NMJs), we find that lack of Cplx 1 significantly reduces and desynchronizes calcium-triggered synaptic transmission; furthermore, high-frequency stimulation elicits synaptic facilitation, instead of normal synaptic depression, and the degree of facilitation is highly sensitive to the amount of cytoplasmic calcium buffering. In Cplx 2-null adrenal chromaffin cells, we also find decreased and desynchronized evoked release, and identify a significant reduction in the vesicle pool close to the calcium channels (immediately releasable pool, IRP). Viral transduction with either Cplx 1 or 2 rescues both the size of the evoked response and the synchronicity of release, and it restores the IRP size. Our findings in two model systems are mutually compatible and indicate a role of Cplx 1 and 2 in facilitating vesicle priming, and also lead to the new hypothesis that Cplxs may synchronize vesicle release by promoting coupling between secretory vesicles and calcium channels.
GABAB receptor-mediated frequency-dependent and circadian changes in synaptic plasticity modulate retinal input to the suprachiasmatic nucleus
Light is the most important environmental signal that entrains the circadian clock located in the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). The retinohypothalamic tract (RHT) was stimulated to simulate the light intensity-dependent discharges of intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells projecting axons to the hypothalamus. EPSCs were evoked by paired-pulse stimulation or by application of stimulus trains, and recorded from SCN neurons in rat brain slices. Initial release probability (Pr) and synaptic plasticity changes depended on the strength of GABAB receptor (GABABR)-mediated presynaptic inhibition and could be different at the same GABABR agonist concentration. Facilitation caused by frequency-dependent relief of GABABR-mediated inhibition was observed when the initial Pr was decreased to less than 15% of control during strong activation of presynaptic GABAB receptors by (±)baclofen (10 m), GABA (2 mm) or by GABA uptake inhibitor nipecotic acid (5 mm). In contrast, short-term synaptic depression appeared during baclofen (10 m) application when initial Pr was greater than 30% of control. Block of 4-aminopyridine-sensitive K+ currents increased the amplitude and time constant of decay of evoked EPSCs (eEPSCs), and decreased the GABABR-mediated presynaptic inhibition. The GABAB receptor antagonist CGP55845 (3 m) increased the eEPSCs amplitude 30% throughout the light–dark cycle. During light and dark phases the RHT inputs to 55% and 33% of recorded neurons, respectively, were under GABAB inhibitory control indicating that the tonic inhibition induced by local changes of endogenous GABA concentration contributes to the circadian variation of RHT transmitter release. We conclude that GABABR-mediated presynaptic inhibition decreased with increasing frequency and broadening of presynaptic action potentials, and depended on the sensitivity of RHT terminals to GABABR agonists, and diurnal changes of the extracellular GABA concentration around RHT axon terminals in the SCN.
Kv3 channel assembly, trafficking and activity are regulated by zinc through different binding sites
Zinc, a divalent heavy metal ion and an essential mineral for life, regulates synaptic transmission and neuronal excitability via ion channels. However, its binding sites and regulatory mechanisms are poorly understood. Here, we report that Kv3 channel assembly, localization and activity are regulated by zinc through different binding sites. Local perfusion of zinc reversibly reduced spiking frequency of cultured neurons most likely by suppressing Kv3 channels. Indeed, zinc inhibited Kv3.1 channel activity and slowed activation kinetics, independent of its site in the N-terminal T1 domain. Biochemical assays surprisingly identified a novel zinc-binding site in the Kv3.1 C-terminus, critical for channel activity and axonal targeting, but not for the zinc inhibition. Finally, mutagenesis revealed an important role of the junction between the first transmembrane (TM) segment and the first extracellular loop in sensing zinc. Its mutant enabled fast spiking with relative resistance to the zinc inhibition. Therefore, our studies provide novel mechanistic insights into the multifaceted regulation of Kv3 channel activity and localization by divalent heavy metal ions.
Calcium dynamics during NMDA-induced membrane potential oscillations in lamprey spinal neurons - contribution of L-type calcium channels (CaV1.3)
NMDA receptor-dependent, intrinsic membrane potential oscillations are an important element in the operation of the lamprey locomotor network. They involve a cyclic influx of calcium, leading to an activation of calcium-activated potassium (KCa) channels that in turn contributes to the termination of the depolarized plateau and membrane repolarization. In this study, we have investigated the calcium dynamics in different regions of lamprey spinal neurons during membrane potential oscillations, using confocal calcium imaging in combination with intracellular recordings. Calcium fluctuations were observed in both soma and dendrites, timed to the oscillations. The calcium level increased sharply at the onset of membrane depolarization, to reach its maximum by the end of the plateau. The calcium peak in distal dendrites typically occurred earlier than in the soma during the oscillatory cycle. The L-type calcium channel blocker nimodipine increased the duration of the depolarized plateau phase in most cells tested, whereas the agonist Bay K 8644 decreased plateau duration. Bay K 8644 increased the amplitude of calcium fluctuations, particularly in distal dendrites, whereas nimodipine caused a decrease, suggesting that L-type low-voltage-activated calcium channels are mainly localized in these regions. Our results thus indicate that dendritic CaV1.3-like calcium channels are activated during NMDA-mediated membrane potential oscillations. This calcium influx activates KCa channels involved in plateau termination.
Glutamatergic modulation of synaptic-like vesicle recycling in mechanosensory lanceolate nerve terminals of mammalian hair follicles
Our aim in the present study was to determine whether a glutamatergic modulatory system involving synaptic-like vesicles (SLVs) is present in the lanceolate ending of the mouse and rat hair follicle and, if so, to assess its similarity to that of the rat muscle spindle annulospiral ending we have described previously. Both types of endings are formed by the peripheral sensory terminals of primary mechanosensory dorsal root ganglion cells, so the presence of such a system in the lanceolate ending would provide support for our hypothesis that it is a general property of fundamental importance to the regulation of the responsiveness of the broad class of primary mechanosensory endings. We show not only that an SLV-based system is present in lanceolate endings, but also that there are clear parallels between its operation in the two types of mechanosensory endings. In particular, we demonstrate that, as in the muscle spindle: (i) FM1-43 labels the sensory terminals of the lanceolate ending, rather than the closely associated accessory (glial) cells; (ii) the dye enters and leaves the terminals primarily by SLV recycling; (iii) the dye does not block the electrical response to mechanical stimulation, in contrast to its effect on the hair cell and dorsal root ganglion cells in culture; (iv) SLV recycling is Ca2+ sensitive; and (v) the sensory terminals are enriched in glutamate. Thus, in the lanceolate sensory ending SLV recycling is itself regulated, at least in part, by glutamate acting through a phospholipase D-coupled metabotropic glutamate receptor.
Glucose sensitivity of mouse olfactory bulb neurons is conveyed by a voltage-gated potassium channel
The olfactory bulb has recently been proposed to serve as a metabolic sensor of internal chemistry, particularly that modified by metabolism. Because the voltage-dependent potassium channel Kv1.3 regulates a large proportion of the outward current in olfactory bulb neurons and gene-targeted deletion of the protein produces a phenotype of resistance to diet-induced obesity in mice, we hypothesized that this channel may play a role in translating energy availability into a metabolic signal. Here we explored the ability of extracellular glucose concentration to modify evoked excitability of the mitral neurons that principally regulate olfactory coding and processing of olfactory information. Using voltage-clamp electrophysiology of heterologously expressed Kv1.3 channels in HEK 293 cells, we found that Kv1.3 macroscopic currents responded to metabolically active (d-) rather than inactive (l-) glucose with a response profile that followed a bell-shaped curve. Olfactory bulb slices stimulated with varying glucose concentrations showed glucose-dependent mitral cell excitability as evaluated by current-clamp electrophysiology. While glucose could be either excitatory or inhibitory, the majority of the sampled neurons displayed a decreased firing frequency in response to elevated glucose concentration that was linked to increased latency to first spike and decreased action potential cluster length. Unlike modulation attributed to phosphorylation, glucose modulation of mitral cells was rapid, less than one minute, and was reversible within the time course of a patch recording. Moreover, we report that modulation targets properties of spike firing rather than action potential shape, involves synaptic activity of glutamate or GABA signalling circuits, and is dependent upon Kv1.3 expression. Given the rising incidence of metabolic disorders attributed to weight gain, changes in neuronal excitability in brain regions regulating sensory perception of food are of consequence.