The European journal of neuroscience

Facilitation of spontaneous glycine release by anoxia potentiates NMDA receptor current in the hypoglossal motor neurons of the rat.

PMID 17408431


Deficiency in energy supply, such as occurs during hypoxia, anoxia, metabolic stress and mitochondrial failure, strongly affects the excitability of central neurons. Such lowered energy supply evokes various changes in spontaneous synaptic input to the hippocampal and cortical neurons. However, how this energy deprivation affects synaptic input to motor neurons, which are also vulnerable to energy deprivation, has never been addressed. Here we report for the first time the effect of metabolic stress on synaptic input to motor neurons by recording postsynaptic currents in the hypoglossal nucleus. Chemical anoxia with NaCN (1 mm) and anoxia with 95% N(2) induced a persistent inward current and a marked and robust increase in action potential-independent synaptic input. This increase was abolished by strychnine, but not by picrotoxin, CNQX or MK-801, indicating glycine release facilitation. Blockade of voltage-dependent Ca(2+) channels and extracellular Ca(2+) deprivation strongly attenuated this facilitation. The amplitude of inward currents evoked by local application of NMDA to the motor neurons in the presence of strychnine was significantly increased during NaCN application. A saturating concentration of d-serine occluded this potentiation, suggesting that released glycine activated the glycine-binding sites of NMDA receptors. By contrast, neurons in the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus showed no detectable change in synaptic input in response to NaCN. These data suggest that increase in synaptically released glycine in response to metabolic stress may play an exacerbating role in NMDA receptor-mediated excitotoxicity in motor neurons.

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