Substance P-induced inward current in identified auditory efferent neurons in rat brain stem slices

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    The effects of substance P (SP) on whole cell currents were studied in neurons of the medial olivocochlear efferent system (MOCS) in the ventral nucleus of the trapezoid body (VNTB) of brain stem slices from neonatal rats. Each neuron was identified by retrograde labeling with Fast Blue injected into the cochlea. Bath application of SP (0.1-10 mu M) reversibly induced an apparent inward current in 49 of 63 labeled neurons when voltage clamped at near resting voltages. This apparent inward current was consistent with the SP-induced membrane depolarization observed in current-clamp mode. The SP-induced change in current was dose dependent with a half-maximal response dose of 200 nM. It was mimicked by [Cys(3,6), Tyr(8), Pro(9)]-SP, a neurokinin (NK1) receptor selective agonist, whereas [Succinyl-Asp(6), MePhe(8)]-SP 6-11 (Senktide), a NK3 receptor agonist, had no detectable effect. The SP effect was not blocked by 10(-6) M tetrodotoxin (TTX) and persisted when the perfusate contained 30 mM tetraethylammonium (TEA) or 100 mu M Cd2+ or was in a O-Ca solution. In a TTX-containing solution, SP caused a voltage-dependent decrease of membrane conductance, and the SP-evoked cut-rent reversed at a potential at around -105 mV. The predicted K+ equilibrium potential was -93.8 mV under the experimental conditions. The SP-induced inward current was attenuated by 66% when the perfusate contained 3 mM Cs+. We conclude that the apparent inward current is partly caused by SP decreasing an outward current normally maintained by the inward rectifier K+ channels in these cells. In the presence of Cs solution in the recording pipette and with a perfusate containing 3 mM Cs+, 0.1 mM Cd2+ and 10(-6) M TTX, a residual SP-induced inward current was observed at test voltages ranging from -120 to 40 mV. This subcomponent reversed its polarity at similar to 20 mV. This inward current was reduced substantially (but not abolished) when all NaCl in the external solution was replaced by TEA-CI. The results indicate that SP also opens an unknown cation channel, which the available data suggests may be relatively nonselective. The results suggest that MOCS neurons are subject to modulation by SP, which depolarizes the cell membrane by decreasing the activity of inward rectifier K+ channels as well as concurrently activating a separate cation conductance. It also was found that in MOCS neurons responsive to both SP and norepinephrine, the norepinephrine effect was abolished by TTX, suggesting that an interneuronal population excited by norepinephrine converges selectively onto SP-sensitive MOCS neurons in the VNTB.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)218-229
    JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
    Publication statusPublished - 1998


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