Author(s): Moos FC
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Abstract 1. GABAergic innervation of oxytocin neurones is particularly abundant during lactation, but little is known about its functional role. In this study, the role of GABAA receptors in the suckling-induced bursting activity of oxytocin neurones was investigated in lactating rats. GABAA agonists or antagonists were applied by pressure injection into the immediate neighbourhood of recorded neurones while simultaneous recordings were made from oxytocin neurones in the contralateral supraoptic nucleus. 2. GABA and the GABA agonist isoguvacine decreased the basal electrical activity while application of GABAA antagonists (picrotoxin and gabazine) increased the basal electrical activity. However, in marked and unexpected contrast, application of GABA and isoguvacine facilitated or triggered milk-ejection reflex bursting activity whereas GABAA antagonists interrupted this reflex activity. 3. Systemic injection of hypertonic saline is known to increase the firing rate of neurones in the supraoptic nucleus and temporarily to interrupt suckling-induced bursting activity. Application of GABA into one supraoptic nucleus counteracted this inhibitory effect on milk ejection. 4. These observations can be explained if the role of the important GABAergic innervation of oxytocin neurones during lactation is to favour the expression of the stereotyped suckling-induced bursting activity. It might do this by attenuating inputs unrelated to suckling which are incompatible with bursts.
This article was published in J Physiol
and referenced in Biochemistry & Pharmacology: Open Access