PubMed 24370637

Referenced in Channelpedia wiki pages of: none

Automatically associated channels: Kir2.3

Title: α-MSH exerts direct postsynaptic excitatory effects on NTS neurons and enhances GABAergic signaling in the NTS.

Authors: A Mimee, M Kuksis, A V Ferguson

Journal, date & volume: Neuroscience, 2014 Mar 14 , 262, 70-82

PubMed link:

The central melanocortin system plays an essential role in the regulation of energy balance. While anorexigenic effects of α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH) acting in the nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS), a critical medullary autonomic control center, have been established, the cellular events underlying these effects are less well characterized. In this study, we used whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology to examine firstly whether α-MSH exerts direct postsynaptic effects on the membrane potential of rat NTS neurons in slice preparation, and secondly whether α-MSH influences GABAergic signaling in the NTS. In normal artificial cerebrospinal fluid, perfusion of α-MSH (500 nM) resulted in a depolarization in 39% of cells (n=16, mean 6.14±0.54 mV), and a hyperpolarization in 22% of cells (n=9, -6.79±1.02 mV). Studies using tetrodotoxin to block neuronal communication revealed α-MSH exerts direct depolarizing effects on some NTS neurons, and indirect inhibitory effects on others. A third subset of neurons is simultaneously directly depolarized and indirectly hyperpolarized by α-MSH, resulting in a net lack of effect on membrane potential. The inhibitory inputs influenced by α-MSH were identified as GABAergic, as α-MSH increased the frequency, but not amplitude, of inhibitory postsynaptic currents (IPSCs) in 50% of NTS neurons. α-MSH had no effect on the frequency or amplitude of miniature IPSCs. Furthermore, pharmacological blockade of GABAA and GABAB receptors, and physical removal of all synaptic inputs via cellular dissociation, abolished hyperpolarizations induced by α-MSH. We conclude α-MSH exerts direct, postsynaptic excitatory effects on a subset of NTS neurons. By exciting GABAergic NTS neurons and presynaptically enhancing GABAergic signaling, α-MSH also indirectly inhibits other NTS cells. These findings provide critical insight into the cellular events underlying medullary melanocortin anorexigenic effects, and expand the understanding of the circuitries involved in central melanocortin signaling.