Responsiveness of suprachiasmatic and ventral lateral geniculate neurons to serotonin and imipramine: a microiontophoretic study in normal and imipramine-treated rats

Brain Res Bull. 1988 Jan;20(1):89-96. doi: 10.1016/0361-9230(88)90012-3.


The suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) are a major pacemaker of circadian rhythms in mammals. The SCN receive a direct retinal projection and a second optic input via the ventral lateral geniculate nucleus (vLGN). Both visual pathways mediate the entrainment of circadian rhythms, whereas both the SCN and the vLGN receive serotonergic afferents from the raphe nuclei. We investigated the effects of microiontophoretically applied serotonin (5HT) on SCN and vLGN cells in normal rats and rats chronically treated with the 5HT reuptake blocker imipramine (IMI). In the SCN of both groups over 40% of all recorded cells (N = 80) responded to 5HT with a dose-dependent suppression of their spontaneous or glutamate-evoked discharge, while twenty percent were tonically light-responsive. Except for one cell with an inconsistent 5HT response, none of the visual SCN neurons were 5HT-sensitive. In the vLGN of normal and IMI-treated rats about 60% of the cells recorded (N = 42) were inhibited by 5HT. In IMI-treated rats a few cases of excitation by 5HT were encountered in the vLGN. Visual as well as non-visual vLGN cells were responsive to 5HT. Microiontophoretic application of IMI resulted in suppression of electrical activity in both brain regions and enhanced the response induced by 5HT. Chronic IMI-treatment produced a significant increase in the sensitivity of cells in the SCN and vLGN to iontophoresed 5HT, without affecting the relative magnitude of the inhibition. The recovery from 5HT-induced inhibition was slow in these animals. Interestingly, the spontaneous discharge rate of both 5HT-sensitive and 5HT-insensitive SCN and vLGN cells was significantly lower in the imipramine-treated group.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Geniculate Bodies / drug effects*
  • Imipramine / pharmacology*
  • Iontophoresis
  • Male
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Reference Values
  • Serotonin / pharmacology*
  • Suprachiasmatic Nucleus / drug effects*


  • Serotonin
  • Imipramine