A presynaptic mechanism contributes to depression of autonomic signal transmission in NTS

Am J Physiol. 1999 Oct;277(4):H1350-60. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.1999.277.4.H1350.


With increasing frequencies of autonomic afferent input to the nucleus tractus solitarii (NTS), postsynaptic responses are depressed. To test the hypothesis that a presynaptic mechanism contributes to this frequency-dependent depression, we used whole cell, voltage-clamp recordings in an NTS slice. First, we determined whether solitary tract stimulation (0.4-24 Hz) resulted in frequency-dependent depression of excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) in second-order neurons. Second, because decreases in presynaptic glutamate release result in a parallel depression of alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid (AMPA) and N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptor-mediated components of EPSCs, we determined whether the magnitude, time course, and recovery from the depression were the same in both EPSC components. Third, to determine whether AMPA receptor desensitization contributed, we examined the depression during cyclothiazide. EPSCs decreased in a frequency-dependent manner by up to 76% in second- and 92% in higher-order neurons. AMPA and NMDA EPSC components were depressed with the same magnitude (by 83% and 83%) and time constant (113 and 103 ms). The time constant for the recovery was also not different (1.2 and 0.8 s). Cyclothiazide did not affect synaptic depression at >/=3 Hz. The data suggest that presynaptic mechanism(s) at the first NTS synapse mediate frequency-dependent synaptic depression.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autonomic Nervous System / physiology*
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Presynaptic Terminals / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, AMPA / physiology
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Solitary Nucleus / cytology
  • Solitary Nucleus / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • Time Factors


  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate