Journal of neurophysiology

Modulation of inhibitory and excitatory fast neurotransmission in the rat CNS by heavy water (D2O).

PMID 26019316


The effects of heavy water (deuterium oxide, D2O) on GABAergic and glutamatergic spontaneous and evoked synaptic transmission were investigated in acute brain slice and isolated "synaptic bouton" preparations of rat hippocampal CA3 neurons. The substitution of D2O for H2O reduced the frequency and amplitude of GABAergic spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic currents (sIPSCs) in a concentration-dependent manner but had no effect on glutamatergic spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic currents (sEPSCs). In contrast, for evoked synaptic responses in isolated neurons, the amplitude of both inhibitory and excitatory postsynaptic currents (eIPSCs and eEPSCs) was decreased in a concentration-dependent manner. This was associated with increases of synaptic failure rate (Rf) and paired-pulse ratio (PPR). The effect was larger for eIPSCs compared with eEPSCs. These results clearly indicate that D2O acts differently on inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmitter release machinery. Furthermore, D2O significantly suppressed GABAA receptor-mediated whole cell current (IGABA) but did not affect glutamate receptor-mediated whole cell current (IGlu). The combined effects of D2O at both the pre- and postsynaptic sites may explain the greater inhibition of eIPSCs compared with eEPSCs. Finally, D2O did not enhance or otherwise affect the actions of the general anesthetics nitrous oxide and propofol on spontaneous or evoked GABAergic and glutamatergic neurotransmissions, or on IGABA and IGlu. Our results suggest that previously reported effects of D2O to mimic and/or modulate anesthesia potency result from mechanisms other than modulation of GABAergic and glutamatergic neurotransmission.