Histamine is a neurotransmitter with actions throughout the nervous system of vertebrates and invertebrates. Nevertheless, the actions of only a few identified histamine-containing neurons have been characterized. Here, we present the actions of a histaminergic projection neuron on the rhythmically active pyloric and gastric mill circuits within the stomatogastric ganglion (STG) of the crab Cancer borealis. An antiserum generated against histamine labeled profiles throughout the C. borealis stomatogastric nervous system. Labeling occurred in several somata and neuropil within the paired commissural ganglia as well as in neuropil within the STG and at the junction of the superior oesophageal and stomatogastric nerves. The source of all histamine-like immunolabeling in the STG neuropil was one pair of neuronal somata, the previously identified inferior ventricular (IV) neurons, located in the supraoesophageal ganglion. These neurons also exhibited FLRFamide-like immunoreactivity. Activation of the IV neurons in the crab inhibited some pyloric and gastric mill neurons and, with inputs from the commissural ganglia eliminated, terminated both rhythms. Focal application of histamine had comparable effects. The actions of both applied histamine and IV neuron stimulation were blocked, reversibly, by the histamine type-2 receptor antagonist cimetidine. With the commissural ganglia connected to the STG, IV neuron stimulation elicited a longer-latency activation of commissural projection neurons which in turn modified the pyloric rhythm and activated the gastric mill rhythm. These results support the hypothesis that the histaminergic/peptidergic IV neurons are projection neurons with direct and indirect actions on the STG circuits of the crab C. borealis.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.