Kainate receptor-induced retrograde inhibition of glutamatergic transmission in vasopressin neurons

J Neurosci. 2012 Jan 25;32(4):1301-10. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3017-11.2012.


Presynaptic kainate receptors (KARs) exert a modulatory action on transmitter release. We here report that applications of agonists of GluK1-containing KARs in the rat supraoptic nucleus has an opposite action on glutamatergic transmission according to the phenotype of the postsynaptic neuron. Whereas glutamate release was facilitated in oxytocin (OT) neurons, it was inhibited in vasopressin (VP) cells. Interestingly, an antagonist of GluK1-containing KARs caused an inhibition of glutamate release in both OT and VP neurons, revealing the existence of tonically activated presynaptic KARs that are positively coupled to transmitter release. We thus postulated that the inhibition of glutamate release observed with exogenous applications of GluK1 agonists on VP neurons could be indirect. In agreement with this hypothesis, we first showed that functional GluK1-containing KARs were present postsynaptically on VP neurons but not on OT cells. We next showed that the inhibitory effect induced by exogenous GluK1 receptor agonist was compromised when BAPTA was added in the recording pipette to buffer intracellular Ca2+ and block the release of a putative retrograde messenger. Under these conditions, GluK1-containing KAR agonist facilitates glutamatergic transmission in VP neurons in a manner similar to that observed for OT neurons and that resulted from the activation of presynaptic GluK1 receptors. GluK1-mediated inhibition of glutamate release in VP neurons was also blocked by a κ-opioid receptor antagonist. These findings suggest that activation of postsynaptic GluK1-containing KARs on VP neurons leads to the release of dynorphin, which in turn acts on presynaptic κ-opioid receptors to inhibit glutamate release.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, Kainic Acid / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*
  • Vasopressins / physiology*


  • Gluk1 kainate receptor
  • Receptors, Kainic Acid
  • Vasopressins
  • Glutamic Acid