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Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol
280: G1106–G1113, 2001.
Mechanism of action of baclofen in rat dorsalmotor nucleus of the vagus
K. N. BROWNING AND R. A. TRAVAGLIDivision of Gastroenterology and Department of Physiology, University ofMichigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109
Received 28 September 2000; accepted in final form 14 January 2001
Browning, K. N., and R. A. Travagli.
Functional in vivo studies have shown that subcuta-
action of baclofen in rat dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus.
neous or intracerebroventricular application of the
Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol
GABAB receptor agonist baclofen increases gastric and
2001.— Using whole cell patch-clamp recordings, we inves-
intestinal motility (3, 10) as well as initiating vagal
tigated the effects of the GABAB receptor agonist baclofen in
discharges similar to those obtained on stimulation of
thin slices of rat brain stem containing identified gastric- or
gastric secretion (13). These apparently contradictory
intestinal-projecting dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus
results can be explained if activation of GABA
(DMV) neurons. Perfusion with baclofen (0.1–100 M) in-
duced a concentration-dependent outward current (EC
tors involves separate subpopulations of DVC neurons.
M) in 54% of DMV neurons with no apparent differences
One population would comprise excitatory DMV neu-
between gastric- and intestinal-projecting neurons. The out-
rons that do not have GABAB receptors on their mem-
ward current was attenuated by pretreatment with the se-
brane but rather receive an inhibitory input, most
likely from NTS, which is inhibited by activation of
B antagonists saclofen and 2-hydroxysaclofen,
but not by the synaptic blocker TTX, indicating a direct effect
GABAB receptors. The disinhibition of these DMV neu-
at GABAB receptors on DMV neurons. Using the selective ion
rons would result in an excitatory effect such as in-
channel blockers barium, nifedipine, and apamin, we showed
crease in gastric motility. Indeed, electrophysiological
that the outward current was due to effects on potassium and
studies have shown that baclofen acts directly on NTS
calcium currents as well as calcium-dependent potassium
neurons to produce a membrane hyperpolarization (7),
currents. The calcium-mediated components of the outward
as well as indirectly to inhibit synaptic transmission
current were more prominent in intestinal-projecting neu-
from vagal afferents (7, 23). Another DMV neuronal
rons than in gastric-projecting neurons. These data indicate
population, most likely participating in inhibitory con-
that although baclofen inhibits both intestinal- and gastric-
trol of gastric functions, would have GABA
projecting neurons in the rat DMV, its mechanism of action
differs among the neuronal subpopulations.
on the membrane but would not receive inhibitoryinputs containing GABAB receptors on the presynaptic
brain stem; electrophysiology; gastrointestinal
membrane. The inhibition of these DMV neurons re-sulting from activation of GABAB receptors would re-duce their inhibitory influence, causing an increase in
THE DORSAL MOTOR NUCLEUS OF the vagus (DMV) contains
gastric pressure. Indeed, Andrews et al. (3) hypothe-
the neurons that provide the parasympathetic efferent
sized that the observed atropine-insensitive increase in
outflow to the subdiaphragmatic viscera (12, 22). Af-
gastric pressure obtained by baclofen was probably
ferent neurons innervating the gastrointestinal tract
mediated via an action at a central site to reduce the
project to, and terminate within, the DMV either di-
tonic vagal drive to nonadrenergic noncholinergic
rectly or via interneurons in the nucleus of the solitary
(NANC) inhibitory neurons.
tract (NTS) (2, 25, 26, 30). DMV neurons are under
The cellular mechanisms coupled to postsynaptic
inhibitory control from GABAergic neurons of the NTS
GABAB receptor activation are well documented (5, 11,
(31, 32). The inhibitory actions of GABA on DMV
14, 17, 27, 34, 35). The mechanisms comprise activa-
neurons are thought to be exerted primarily by fast
tion of potassium- as well as inhibition of voltage-
ionic currents mediated via GABAA receptor activation
dependent calcium conductances and adenylate cy-
(32). Although autoradiographic studies (1, 6, 20) have
demonstrated that GABAB receptors also are located
We (8, 9) have shown recently that the DMV is
throughout the dorsal vagal complex (DVC), i.e., the
composed of heterogeneous neuronal populations in
DMV plus the NTS, to date there is no evidence to
terms of both membrane as well as pharmacological
suggest that functional GABAB receptors exist on DMV
properties. These populations can be further distin-
guished based on their peripheral targets.
Address for reprint requests and other correspondence: R. A.
The costs of publication of this article were defrayed in part by the
Travagli, Dept. of Internal Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology,
payment of page charges. The article must therefore be hereby
3912 Taubman Center, 1500 East Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor,
'' in accordance with 18 U.S.C. Section 1734
MI 48109-0362 (E-mail:email@example.com).
solely to indicate this fact.
0193-1857/01 $5.00 Copyright 2001 the American Physiological Society
BACLOFEN IN RAT DMV
The aims of this study were to investigate 1
Drugs were applied to the bath via a
series of manually operated valves. Baclofen (10 M) was
B receptors are functionally present on the DMV
membrane, and if so, 2
) what the mechanism of action
applied to all neurons to ascertain whether or not it had any
effect per se before the appropriate experiment was contin-
B agonist baclofen is on the DMV mem-
brane, and 3
) whether there are differences in the
ued. When voltage clamped at ⫺50 mV, a minimum peakcurrent of 20 pA had to be induced by baclofen (10 M) to
responses of DMV neurons identified as per their pe-
classify the neuron as responsive. Drug effects were assessed
with each neuron acting as its own control, i.e., the resultsobtained after administration of a receptor antagonist or
channel blocker were compared with those obtained beforeadministration using the paired t
-test. Drugs were applied in
The retrograde tracer DiI was applied
concentrations shown previously to be effective. Results are
to discrete gastrointestinal regions in 12-day-old Sprague-
expressed as means ⫾ SE with significance defined as P
Dawley rat pups of either sex, as described previously (8).
0.05. To minimize sampling biases, only one experiment was
Briefly, rats were anesthetized deeply with a 6% solution of
conducted per each brain stem slice and only one experiment
halothane in accordance with the guidelines of the Animal
of each type was conducted per animal.
Care and Use Committee of the University of Michigan
Chemicals and solutions.
Krebs solution was composed of
Medical Center (Ann Arbor, MI). The depth of anesthesia
(in mM): 126 NaCl, 25 NaHCO3, 2.5 KCl, 1.2 MgCl2, 2.4
(abolition of the foot pinch withdrawal reflex) was monitored
CaCl2, 1.2 NaH2PO4, and 11 dextrose, maintained at pH 7.4
before and during surgery. The abdominal area was shaved
by bubbling with 95%O2-5% CO2. Intracellular solution con-
and cleaned with alcohol before a laparotomy was performed.
sisted of (in mM): 128 potassium gluconate, 10 KCl, 0.3
Crystals of DiI were applied to either the major curvature of
the gastric fundus or corpus, the antrum/pylorus, the duode-
2, 1 MgCl2, 1 HEPES, 1 EGTA, 2 ATP, and 0.25 GTP,
adjusted to pH 7.35 with KOH. 1,1⬘-Dioctadecyl-3,3,3⬘,3⬘-
num (the antimesenteric surface at the level of the hepatic
tetramethylindocarbocyanine perchlorate [DiIC
and pancreaticoduodenal arteries), or the minor curvature of
was purchased from Molecular Probes (Eugene, OR). R(⫹)
the cecum (at the level of the ileocecal junction). The appli-
Baclofen and 2-hydroxysaclofen were purchased from RBI
cation site was embedded in a fast-hardening epoxy resin
(Natick, MA). Halothane and all other drugs and chemicals
before the entire surgical area was washed with warm, ster-
were purchased from Sigma Chemical (St. Louis, MO).
ile saline. The wound was closed with 4-0 sutures, and theanimal was allowed to recover for 10–15 days.
The method used for tissue slice prepa-
ration was as described previously (32). Briefly, rats wereanesthetized deeply (halothane bubbled with air) before be-
Baclofen induces outward current in subpopulation
ing killed through severing of the major blood vessels in the
of DMV neurons.
The effects of the GABAB receptor
chest. The brain stem was removed and placed in chilled
agonist baclofen were assessed in 394 gastrointestinal-
(4°C) oxygenated Krebs solution (see below for composition).
projecting neurons of the DMV (211 gastric projecting
Using a vibratome, we cut six to eight coronal slices contain-
and 187 intestinal projecting). Baclofen induced a con-
ing the DMV. Slices were stored in oxygenated Krebs solu-
centration-dependent (0.1–100 M) outward current
tion at 32°C for at least 1 h before use. A slice was then placed
in 211 (i.e., 54%) of these neurons. No differences were
on a custom-made perfusion chamber (vol 500 l) and main-
observed in the magnitude of the baclofen-induced cur-
tained at 35°C by continual perfusion with warmed oxygen-
rent among the gastric and intestinal groups; data
ated Krebs solution at a rate of 2.5 ml/min.
Retrogradely labeled neurons were identified before elec-
were thus pooled and provided an estimated EC50 of 3
trophysiological recording using a Nikon E600FS microscope
M (Fig. 1). The percentage of responsive neurons did
fitted with DIC (Nomarski) optics and tetramethylrhodamine
not differ between the gastric- and intestinal-project-
isothiocyanate epifluorescent filters. The brief periods of il-
ing neurons; in fact, 112 of 211 gastric-projecting neu-
lumination required to detect the fluorescent neurons have
rons (i.e., 53%) and 99 of 187 intestinal-projecting
not been observed to cause any damage (16, 21). Once a
neurons (i.e., 54%) responded to perfusion with 10 M
labeled neuron was identified, electrophysiological record-
baclofen. Similarly, the distribution of the magnitude
ings were made under bright-field illumination.
of the response to 10 M baclofen did not differ be-
Whole cell recordings were made only from retrogradely
tween gastric- and intestinal-projecting neurons (Fig.
labeled gastrointestinal-projecting neurons using patch pi-
pettes filled with potassium gluconate solution of resistance3–8 M⍀ (see below for composition) and a single electrode
In six neurons (3 gastric and 3 intestinal), the effects
voltage-clamp amplifier (Axopatch 1D, Axon Instruments,
of baclofen (10 M) were assessed before and after
Foster City, CA). Data were filtered at 2 kHz, digitized via a
exposure to GABAB receptor antagonists. Baclofen in-
Digidata 1200C interface (Axon Instruments), and acquired
duced a 51 ⫾ 4 pA outward current in control condi-
and stored on an IBM personal computer using pClamp8
tions. After perfusion with the selective antagonists
software (Axon Instruments). Only neurons having a series
saclofen (300 M, n
⫽ 2) or 2-hydroxysaclofen (100 M,
resistance (i.e., pipette ⫹ access resistance) ⬍15 M⍀ were
⫽ 4), the baclofen-induced current was reduced to
used. A neuron was accepted for recording if it met several
10 ⫾ 3 pA, i.e., 17% of control (P
⬍ 0.05). However,
criteria, including a membrane stable at the holding poten-
incubation with the synaptic blocker TTX (1 M) had
tial that returned to baseline after the action potential af-terhyperpolarization plus an action potential of at least 60
no effect on the baclofen-induced outward current. In
mV amplitude. The membrane potential was manually cor-
fact, baclofen induced a current of 45 ⫾ 8 and 46 ⫾ 8 pA
rected for junction potential before starting each experiment.
in control conditions and in the presence of TTX, re-
Data analysis was performed using pClamp8 software.
⫽ 6, 3 gastric and 3 intestinal; P
BACLOFEN IN RAT DMV
Fig. 1. Baclofen induces a concentration-dependent outward current. A
: representative traces from an intestinal-projecting neuron showing that baclofen produced a concentration-dependent outward current. The cell wasvoltage clamped at ⫺50 mV. The complete washout of the baclofen effect (i.e., recovery to the initial holdingcurrent) was obtained after 7–10 min (not shown). B
: concentration-response curves for the baclofen-inducedoutward current expressed as %maximal response (I
max). The EC50 for the baclofen-response was 3 M. Data forgastric- and intestinal-projecting neurons have been pooled (n
⫽ 7–34). Each neuron contributed at least 3 datapoints. C
: relative % of the neurons tested with baclofen perfusion showed unimodal distribution of the currentresponse. No differences were observed between gastric- and intestinal-projecting neurons at any response value.
Baclofen effect involves several ionic conductances.
was reduced from 76 ⫾ 8.9 pA under control conditions
The effects of the nonselective potassium channel
to 40 ⫾ 4.7 pA in the presence of nifedipine, i.e., 53 ⫾
blocker barium (2 mM) on the outward current induced
2.4% of control (P
⬍ 0.05; data not shown, however, see
by baclofen (10 M) were assessed in 14 neurons (7
Fig. 3). Significant differences were uncovered, how-
gastric and 7 intestinal). The baclofen-induced current
ever, in the magnitude of this reduction between gas-
was reduced from 66 ⫾ 14 pA in control conditions to
tric- and intestinal-projecting neurons. In gastric-pro-
25 ⫾ 5 pA in the presence of barium, i.e., 41 ⫾ 3.6% of
jecting neurons, nifedipine reduced the baclofen-
⬍ 0.05; data not shown, however, see Fig. 3).
induced current from 85 ⫾ 14 to 47 ⫾ 7 pA, i.e., 58 ⫾
No significant differences were observed in the actions
3% of control, whereas in intestinal-projecting neu-
of barium between gastric- and intestinal-projecting
rons, nifedipine reduced the baclofen-induced current
neurons. In detail, barium reduced the baclofen-in-
from 66 ⫾ 9 to 32 ⫾ 6 pA, i.e., 47 ⫾ 3% of control (P
duced current from 73 ⫾ 24 to 25 ⫾ 7 pA in gastric-
projecting neurons and from 60 ⫾ 17 to 24 ⫾ 8 pA in
The involvement of both potassium and calcium con-
intestinal-projecting neurons, i.e., 41 ⫾ 5% and 41 ⫾
ductances in mediating the actions of baclofen was
6% of control in gastric- and intestinal-projecting neu-
confirmed by assessing the reversal potential for the
baclofen-induced outward current in the absence and
The effects of the L-type calcium channel blocker
presence of both channel blockers. The baclofen-in-
nifedipine (3 M) on the baclofen (10 M)-induced
duced current reversed at approximately ⫺95 mV (Fig.
outward current were assessed in 34 neurons (19 gas-
2). In the presence of barium, however, the reversal of
tric and 15 intestinal). The baclofen-induced current
the baclofen-induced current shifted to the more posi-
BACLOFEN IN RAT DMV
between gastric- and intestinal-projecting neuronswere observed in the total inhibition of the baclofencurrent by the combined antagonists.
Given that perfusion with the nonselective potas-
sium channel blocker barium in combination with theselective calcium-L type channel antagonist nifedipinedid not block the baclofen-induced outward currentcompletely, in five neurons (3 gastric and 2 intestinal),we perfused the slice first with nifedipine alone andthen in combination with the nonselective calciumchannel blocker cadmium (200 M). Perfusion withnifedipine reduced the baclofen-induced current from76 ⫾ 4 to 43 ⫾ 2 pA, i.e., a 44 ⫾ 3.9% reduction of thebaclofen-induced current; addition of cadmium to thenifedipine perfusate caused the baclofen-induced cur-rent to be reduced to 34 ⫾ 4 pA, i.e, an additional 11 ⫾
4.5% (nifedipine vs. nifedipine ⫹ cadmium, P
These data then suggested that calcium currents otherthan the L-type may be involved in the baclofen-in-duced outward current.
Because there appeared to be some overlap between
the inhibitory actions of the potassium channel blockerbarium and the calcium channel blocker nifedipine
(i.e., 59 ⫾ 3.5% reduction by barium, 47 ⫾ 2.4% reduc-tion by nifedipine but an 81% to 88% reduction whencombined), we investigated the involvement of a calci-um-dependent potassium conductance using the small-conductance potassium (SK) channel blocker apamin.
The outward current induced by baclofen (10 M) wasassessed before and after apamin (100 nM) in 19 neu-
Fig. 2. Current-voltage relationship for the baclofen-induced out-ward current. Dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus (DMV) neurons
rons (12 gastric, 7 intestinal). In the presence of
were voltage clamped at ⫺50 mV and stepped to ⫺120 mV for 800 ms
apamin, the baclofen-induced current was reduced
every 5 s in ⫺10-mV increments. Each data point represents an
from 107 ⫾ 15 to 63 ⫾ 9 pA, i.e., 62 ⫾ 3.5% of control
average of 6–24 neurons. In control medium, the baclofen equilib-
⬍ 0.05; Fig. 4A
). Differences were again apparent
rium potential (E
b) was ⫺95 mV (A
). After perfusion with the
between gastric- and intestinal-projecting neurons. In
potassium channel blocker barium (2 mM), the E
b shifted to lessnegative potentials (approximately ⫺55 mV) (B
). Conversely, pre-
detail, in gastric-projecting neurons, apamin reduced
treatment with the L-type calcium channel antagonist nifedipine (3
the baclofen-induced current from 95 ⫾ 18 to 62 ⫾ 12
M) shifted E
b closer to potassium equilibrium potential.
pA, i.e., 68 ⫾ 4% of control, whereas in intestinal-projecting neurons, apamin reduced the baclofen-in-
tive value of ⫺55 mV (n
⫽ 6), i.e., further from potas-sium equilibrium potential (E
K). In the presence ofnifedipine, however, the reversal of the baclofen-in-duced current shifted to the more negative value of
⫺110 mV (n
⫽ 6), i.e., closer to E
In eight cells (5 gastric and 3 intestinal), perfusion
with barium reduced the baclofen-induced currentfrom 68 ⫾ 21 to 26 ⫾ 6 pA, i.e., a 55 ⫾ 3.0% reductionof the baclofen-induced current; addition of nifedipineto the barium perfusate caused the baclofen-inducedcurrent to be reduced from 26 ⫾ 6 to 9 ⫾ 3 pA, i.e., 12 ⫾2% of the initial control value (barium vs. barium ⫹nifedipine, P
⬍ 0.05). Likewise, in nine cells (5 gastricand 4 intestinal), perfusion with nifedipine reduced the
Fig. 3. Baclofen-induced outward current is antagonized by a com-bination of nifedipine and barium. Representative trace showing
baclofen-induced current from 110 ⫾ 28 to 55 ⫾ 14 pA,
that in the voltage-clamp configuration [holding potential (HP) ⫽
i.e., a 51 ⫾ 3.7% reduction of the baclofen-induced
⫺50 mV], perfusion with baclofen (10 M) induced an outward
current; addition of barium to the nifedipine perfusate
current in a DMV neuron. After pretreatment with a solution con-
caused the baclofen-induced current to be reduced from
taining the selective calcium channel L-type antagonist nifedipine (3
55 ⫾ 14 to 22 ⫾ 6 pA, i.e., 19 ⫾ 3.5% of the initial
M) decreased the baclofen-induced current to ⬃50% of control,
addition of the nonselective potassium channel blocker barium (Ba;
control value (nifedipine vs. nifedipine ⫹ barium, P
2 mM) to the nifedipine-containing solution further reduced the
0.05; Fig. 3). No statistically significant differences
baclofen-induced outward current.
BACLOFEN IN RAT DMV
in the presence of nifedipine plus apamin (n
⫽ 5; P
⬎0.05; Fig. 4B
). These data suggested that, unlike gas-tric-projecting neurons, the apamin-sensitive currentin intestinal-projecting neurons is activated by a com-bination of calcium currents rather than by the L-typecalcium current only. Data are summarized in Fig. 5.
To confirm the involvement of a calcium-dependent
potassium conductance, the actions of baclofen to alterthe action potential afterhyperpolarization (previouslydemonstrated to involve the SK-channel; Refs. 8, 24,and 29) were assessed in 20 neurons (9 gastric, 11intestinal). Baclofen caused a 16 ⫾ 1.6% reduction inthe action potential afterhyperpolarization (25 ⫾ 1.0vs. 20 ⫾ 0.9 mV with baclofen; P
⬍ 0.05), a 42 ⫾ 4%reduction in the afterhyperpolarization rate of decay
Fig. 4. Baclofen-induced outward current is antagonized differen-
tially by a combination of apamin and nifedipine or nifedipine and
⫾ 10 vs. 62 ⫾ 4.7 ms with baclofen; P
⬍ 0.05), and
apamin. Representative trace showing that in the voltage-clamp
an 8 ⫾ 1.6% increase in the action potential duration
configuration (HP ⫽ ⫺50 mV), perfusion with baclofen (10 M)
(2.61 ⫾ 0.14 vs. 2.82 ⫾ 0.15 ms with baclofen; P
induced an outward current in a DMV neuron. A
: after pretreatmentwith a solution containing the selective calcium-dependent potas-sium antagonist apamin (100 nM) decreased the baclofen-inducedcurrent to ⬃60% of control, addition of the selective L-type calciumchannel blocker nifedipine (3 M) to the apamin-containing solutionfurther reduced the baclofen-induced outward current. B
: in con-
trast, in a gastric-projecting neuron, addition of apamin to thenifedipine-containing solution did not further reduce the baclofen-induced outward current.
duced current from 126 ⫾ 26 to 63 ⫾ 15 pA, i.e., 53 ⫾5% of control (P
Because extracellular barium is not an effective
blocker of calcium-dependent potassium currents (15),we tested its effects on the baclofen-induced current in
combination with apamin. In 11 cells (6 gastric and 5intestinal), perfusion with apamin decreased the ba-clofen-induced current from 88 ⫾ 13 to 48 ⫾ 5 pA, i.e,60 ⫾ 5.5% of control; the addition of barium to theapamin perfusate caused the baclofen-induced currentto be reduced to 24 ⫾ 3 pA, i.e., 30 ⫾ 2.5% of the initialcontrol value (apamin vs. apamin ⫹ barium, P
Likewise, in 10 cells (5 gastric and 5 intestinal), per-fusion with apamin decreased the baclofen-inducedcurrent from 136 ⫾ 21 to 79 ⫾ 15 pA, i.e., 58 ⫾ 2.8% ofcontrol; addition of nifedipine to the apamin perfusatecaused the baclofen-induced current to be reduced to57 ⫾ 12 pA, i.e., 40 ⫾ 2.4% of the initial control value(apamin vs. apamin ⫹ nifedipine, P
⬍ 0.05; Fig. 4A
No statistically significant differences between gastric-and intestinal-projecting neurons were observed on thetotal inhibition of the baclofen current by the combinedantagonists. Interestingly, though, when apamin wasperfused in combination with, and after exposure to,
Fig. 5. Summary of the effects of baclofen in the presence of ion
nifedipine, a further 10 ⫾ 3.1% inhibition of the ba-
channel antagonists. A
: after incubation with barium (2 mM), nifed-
clofen-induced current was observed in intestinal-pro-
ipine (3 M), or apamin (100 nM), the amplitude of the baclofen (10
jecting neurons. In detail, in intestinal-projecting neu-
M)-induced outward current was reduced in gastric- and intestinal-projecting DMV neurons. Note that nifedipine and apamin both
rons, the baclofen-induced current was reduced from
produced a larger inhibition of the baclofen-induced current in in-
50 ⫾ 5 pA under control conditions to 30 ⫾ 6 pA in the
testinal compared with gastric neurons. B
: in gastric-projecting neu-
presence of nifedipine and 25 ⫾ 5 pA in the presence of
rons, nifedipine (3 M) reduced the current induced by 10 M
nifedipine plus apamin (n
⫽ 4; P
⬍ 0.05). In gastric-
baclofen; addition of apamin (100 nM) had no additional effect.
projecting neurons, the baclofen-induced current was
Conversely, in intestinal-projecting neurons, addition of apamin tothe nifedipine superfusate resulted in an additional decrease in the
reduced from 61 ⫾ 8 pA under control conditions to
baclofen-induced current. * P
⬍ 0.05, ** P
⬍ 0.05 compared with
34 ⫾ 2 pA in the presence of nifedipine and 34 ⫾ 3 pA
BACLOFEN IN RAT DMV
(data not shown). No differences were observed in the
with the nonselective calcium channel blocker cad-
effects of baclofen on action potentials from gastric vs.
mium. These data indicate that calcium channels other
than the L-type are also affected, although such chan-nels play a minor role in the overall baclofen response.
The present study seems to indicate differences be-
tween gastric- and intestinal-projecting neurons with
The present study provides the first direct evidence
regard to the source of calcium necessary to activate
that functional GABAB receptors are located on the
the apamin-sensitive calcium-dependent potassium
membrane of DMV neurons. In fact, the GABAB ago-
current. In fact, the baclofen current obtained in the
nist baclofen evoked a concentration-dependent out-
presence of nifedipine compared with nifedipine in
ward (inhibitory) current in a subpopulation of gastro-
combination with a supramaximal concentration of
intestinal-projecting DMV neurons via direct activation
apamin (24) did not differ in gastric-projecting neu-
of postsynaptic GABAB receptors. The baclofen-in-
rons. When the same cocktail of antagonists was tested
duced outward current was mediated by several ionic
in intestinal-projecting neurons, however, a further
conductances, namely a potassium conductance, a cal-
10% inhibition in the baclofen-induced current was
cium conductance, and a calcium-dependent potassium
observed after pretreatment with nifedipine and
apamin. These data would suggest that the apamin-
Although the proportion of neurons responding to
sensitive current in gastric-projecting neurons is fully
baclofen and the magnitude of response were similar in
activated by calcium entry via L-type channels,
gastric- and intestinal-projecting neurons, the action of
whereas in intestinal neurons sources other than the
baclofen, however, appeared to differ. In fact, in intes-
L-type calcium channels also play a role. Indeed, a
tinal-projecting neurons, the calcium-mediated compo-
different complement of voltage-dependent calcium
nents of the outward current appeared to exert a more
currents has been shown to be present in rat vagal
prominent role than in gastric-projecting neurons.
motoneurons (24, 28), although their selective localiza-
Such differential effects provide further evidence for
tion has not been investigated.
the nonuniformity of gastrointestinal-projecting DMV
Although elucidating the sources of calcium neces-
neurons (8, 9).
sary to activate calcium-dependent potassium currents
In both gastric- and intestinal-projecting neurons,
is beyond the scope of the present study, the observed
⬃60% of the baclofen-induced response was mediated differences between gastric- and intestinal-projectingvia activation of a barium-sensitive potassium conduc-
neurons are a further indication of the distinct basic
tance. Gastric- and intestinal-projecting neurons dif-
characteristics of DMV neurons projecting to separate
fered, however, in the proportion of the baclofen-in-
areas of the gastrointestinal tract (8, 9).
duced response attributable to an effect on the inward
Activation of central GABAB receptors results in
L-type calcium conductance (42% vs. 53%, respectively;
several gastrointestinal effects, such as increase in
see nifedipine experiments), in the proportion of the
gastric and intestinal motility (3, 10), increase in gas-
response attributable to an effect on the apamin-sen-
tric acid secretion (13), increase in lower esophageal
sitive calcium-dependent potassium (SK) conductance
sphincter (LES) pressure (4), and decrease of gluta-
(32% vs. 48%, respectively; see apamin experiments),
mate-induced LES relaxation (1). A similar dichotomy,
and in the contribution of the L-type calcium conduc-
i.e., both excitatory and inhibitory central effects of
tance to the effect on the SK conductance (100% vs.
baclofen, has also been seen in a recent clinical study
84%, respectively; see nifedipine and apamin experi-
(19). In their work on healthy volunteers, Lidums and
colleagues (19) showed that baclofen decreased the rate
Baclofen has been reported previously (14, 18, 35) to
of transient LES relaxations, but at the same time,
inhibit L-, N- and P/Q-type calcium channels, depend-
increased basal LES pressure, probably via a vagally
ing on the neuronal type investigated. For example, in
rat hippocampus inhibitory neurons, baclofen inhibits
To the best of our knowledge, no in vivo studies in
L-, N- and P/Q-type calcium channels (18), whereas in
animal models have been performed in which baclofen
rat supraoptic nucleus neurons, baclofen inhibits only
has been microinjected directly in the DVC while gas-
N- and P/Q-type channels (14) and in cerebellar gran-
trointestinal effects were monitored. However, con-
ule cells, baclofen inhibits L-type channels (35). Al-
vincing evidence (1, 3, 4, 10, 13) points toward the DVC
though the effects of baclofen on calcium channels
as the central site of action of baclofen on gastrointes-
other than the L-type channel were not investigated in
detail in the present study, it would appear that the
In an in vivo study using a ferret model, Andrews
major proportion of the baclofen-induced inhibition of
and colleagues (3) administered baclofen subcutane-
calcium channels in vagal motoneurons is mediated via
ously and observed an increase in gastric pressure as
inhibition of L-type calcium channels. Indeed, the com-
well as an increase in the amplitude of rhythmic con-
bination of nifedipine and barium almost completely
tractions. Both effects were abolished by vagotomy (3).
abolished the baclofen-induced outward current. How-
In the same study, Andrews et al. (3) reported that, in
ever, after pretreatment with nifedipine alone, a small
the presence of cholinergic and sympathetic blockade,
proportion of the baclofen-induced current was further
the actions of baclofen were restricted to an increase in
inhibited by perfusion of nifedipine in combination
gastric corpus pressure. Such actions can be explained
BACLOFEN IN RAT DMV
if one considers baclofen to have dual central effects: 1
Portions of this work have been presented previously in abstract
an increase in vagal excitatory cholinergic drive to
mediate the increase in rhythmic contractions and 2
) adecrease in tonic vagal drive to NANC inhibitory neu-
rons to mediate the increase in gastric pressure (3). At
1. Abrahams TP, Ekstrand J, Hyland NP, and Hornby PJ.
the cellular level, then, such an apparent contradiction
Immunocytochemical localization of GABAB receptors in ferret
can be resolved if one assumes that the increase in
dorsal vagal complex and functional role in control of loweresophageal sphincter pressure (Abstract). Soc Neurosci Abstr
vagal cholinergic drive occurs as a result of the vagal
disinhibition that follows blockade of GABAergic NTS
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membrane hyperpolarization (7), as well as indirectly
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Pharmacological Reports Copyright © 2012 2012, 64, 205211 by Institute of Pharmacology Polish Academy of Sciences Influence of the phosphodiesterase type 5inhibitor, sildenafil, on antidepressant-likeactivity of magnesium in the forced swim testin mice Katarzyna Soca³a1, Dorota Nieoczym1, Ewa Poleszak2, Piotr WlaŸ1 1Department of Animal Physiology, Institute of Biology and Biochemistry, Maria Curie-Sk³odowska University,Akademicka 19,PL 20-033 Lublin, Poland
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