Potentiation of mouse vagal afferent mechanosensitivity by ionotropic and metabotropic glutamate receptors

J Physiol. 2006 Nov 15;577(Pt 1):295-306. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2006.117762. Epub 2006 Aug 31.


Glutamate acts at central synapses via ionotropic (iGluR--NMDA, AMPA and kainate) and metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs). Group I mGluRs are excitatory whilst group II and III are inhibitory. Inhibitory mGluRs also modulate peripherally the mechanosensitivity of gastro-oesophageal vagal afferents. Here we determined the potential of excitatory GluRs to play an opposing role in modulating vagal afferent mechanosensitivity, and investigated expression of receptor subunit mRNA within the nodose ganglion. The responses of mouse gastro-oesophageal vagal afferents to graded mechanical stimuli were investigated before and during application of selective GluR ligands to their peripheral endings. Two types of vagal afferents were tested: tension receptors, which respond to circumferential tension, and mucosal receptors, which respond only to mucosal stroking. The selective iGluR agonists NMDA and AMPA concentration-dependently potentiated afferent responses. Their corresponding antagonists AP-5 and NBQX alone attenuated mechanosensory responses as did the non-selective antagonist kynurenate. The kainate selective agonist SYM-2081 had minor effects on mechanosensitivity, and the antagonist UBP 302 was ineffective. The mGluR5 antagonist MTEP concentration-dependently inhibited mechanosensitivity. Efficacy of agonists and antagonists differed on mucosal and tension receptors. We conclude that excitatory modulation of afferent mechanosensitivity occurs mainly via NMDA, AMPA and mGlu5 receptors, and the role of each differs according to afferent subtypes. PCR data indicated that all NMDA, kainate and AMPA receptor subunits plus mGluR5 are expressed, and are therefore candidates for the neuromodulation we observed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology*
  • Female
  • Long-Term Potentiation / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mechanoreceptors / physiology*
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / metabolism*
  • Vagus Nerve / physiology*


  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate