The Journal of physiology

Disinhibition of the cardiac limb of the arterial baroreflex in rat: a role for metabotropic glutamate receptors in the nucleus tractus solitarii.

PMID 16809369


The nucleus tractus solitarii (NTS) is the first site of integration for primary baroreceptor afferents, which release glutamate to excite second-order neurones through ionotropic receptors. In vitro studies indicate that glutamate may also activate metabotropic receptors (mGluRs) to modulate the excitability of NTS neurones at pre- and postsynaptic loci. We examined the functional role of metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) in modulating the baroreceptor reflex in the rat NTS. Using the working heart-brainstem preparation, the baroreflex was activated using brief pressor stimuli and the consequent cardiac (heart rate change) and non-cardiac sympathetic (T8-10 chain) baroreflex gains were obtained. Microinjections of glutamate antagonists were made bilaterally into the NTS at the site of termination of baroreceptor afferents. NTS microinjection of kynurenate (ionotropic antagonist) inhibited both the cardiac and sympathetic baroreflex gains (16 +/- 5% and 59 +/- 11% of control, respectively). The non-selective mGluR antagonist MCPG produced a dose-dependent inhibition of the cardiac gain (30 +/- 3% of control) but not the sympathetic gain. Selective inhibitions of the cardiac gain were also seen with LY341495 and EGLU suggesting the response was mediated by group II mGluRs. This effect on cardiac gain involves attenuation of the parasympathetic baroreflex as it persists in the presence of atenolol. Prior NTS microinjection of bicuculline (GABA(A) antagonist) prevented the mGluR-mediated attenuation of the cardiac gain. These results are consistent with the reported presynaptic inhibition of GABAergic transmission by group II mGluRs in the NTS and constitute a plausible mechanism allowing selective feed-forward disinhibition to increase the gain of the cardiac limb of the baroreflex without changing the sympathoinhibitory component.