Postsynaptic mechanism of depression of GABAergic synapses by oxytocin in the supraoptic nucleus of immature rat

A. B. Brussaard, K. S. Kits, T. A. de Vlieger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


1. Oxytocin is known to act on autoreceptors of oxytocin neurones in the supraoptic nucleus (SON). We investigated whether oxytocin modulates putative oxytocin neurones by suppressing the GABA(A) receptor-mediated synaptic inputs on these cells. 2. GABAergic inhibitory postsynaptic currents (IPSCs) were recorded from SON neurones in hypothalamic slices from young rats. Oxytocin specifically reduced the amplitude of both spontaneous and evoked IPSCs, without altering their current kinetics. 3. The effect of oxytocin was observed in 70% of the magnocellular neurones recorded from the dorsomedial part of the SON. d(CH2)5OVT, a specific antagonist of oxytocin receptors, blocked the effect of oxytocin on the IPSCs. Vasopressin had no effect on oxytocin-sensitive SON neurones. 4. The intervals between spontaneous IPSCs were not affected by oxytocin. This suggested that oxytocin had a postsynaptic effect on SON neurones. 5. This postsynaptic origin was further substantiated by application of TTX, which blocked all evoked release but did not prevent the suppressive effect of oxytocin on the amplitude of the spontaneous IPSCs still present in the recording. The selective effect of oxytocin on IPSC amplitude was also maintained in nominally zero extracellular calcium. 6. Intracellular perfusion of SON neurones with GTPγS mimicked the effect of oxytocin on IPSCs, while GDPβS, similarly applied, abolished the effect of oxytocin. 7. Application of calcium mobilizers such as thapsigargin and caffeine also reduced the amplitude of spontaneous IPSCs without significantly altering the frequency at which IPSCs occurred. 8. Thus, oxytocin depresses GABAergic synapses in the SON via modulation of the postsynaptic GABA(A) receptors. This would lead to disinhibition of SON neurones sensitive to oxytocin and could, therefore, be a powerful means of controlling the firing of oxytocin neurones.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)495-507
JournalJournal of physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

Cite this