Cotransmission of GABA and glycine to brain stem motoneurons

J Neurophysiol. 1999 Sep;82(3):1638-41. doi: 10.1152/jn.1999.82.3.1638.


Using whole cell patch-clamp recording in a rat brain stem slice preparation, we found that gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glycine act as cotransmitters to hypoglossal motoneurons (HMs). Focal application of GABA and glycine onto a single HM revealed that GABAA and glycine receptors are present on the same neuron. To demonstrate that HMs receive both GABAergic and glycinergic synaptic inputs, we simultaneously recorded GABAA- and glycine-receptor-mediated spontaneous miniature inhibitory postsynaptic currents (mIPSCs) in single HMs. GABAergic and glycinergic mIPSCs were differentiated based on their kinetics and modulation by pentobarbital. Specifically, GABAA-receptor-mediated events decayed more slowly than glycine-receptor-mediated events. GABAergic response decay kinetics were prolonged by pentobarbital, whereas glycinergic response decay kinetics remained unchanged. The distinct kinetics of the glycine- and GABAA-receptor-mediated synaptic events allowed us to record dual component mIPSCs, mIPSCs that are mediated by both receptor types. These data suggest that GABA and glycine are colocalized in the same presynaptic vesicle and are coreleased from presynaptic terminals opposed to motoneurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Stem / cytology
  • Brain Stem / physiology*
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Glycine / pharmacology
  • Glycine / physiology*
  • Hypoglossal Nerve / cytology
  • Hypoglossal Nerve / physiology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Motor Neurons / metabolism
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / physiology*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, GABA-A / metabolism
  • Receptors, GABA-A / physiology
  • Receptors, Glycine / metabolism
  • Receptors, Glycine / physiology
  • Synapses / physiology
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / pharmacology
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / physiology*


  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Receptors, Glycine
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Glycine