Effect of adrenalectomy on miniature inhibitory postsynaptic currents in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus

JM Verkuyl*, M Joels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Within the rat paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus two types of neurons have been distinguished based on morphological appearance, i.e., parvocellular and magnocellular neurons. The parvocellular neurons play a key role in regulating the activity of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis, which is activated, e. g., after stress exposure. These neurons receive humoral negative feedback via the adrenal hormone corticosterone but also neuronal inhibitory input, either directly or transsynaptically relayed via GABAergic interneurons. In the present study we examined to what extent the neuronal GABAergic input is influenced by the humoral signal. To this end, miniature inhibitory postsynaptic currents (mIPSCs) were recorded in parvo- and magnocellular neurons of adrenalectomized rats, which lack corticosterone, and in sham-operated controls. Under visual control neurons in coronal slices containing the paraventricular nucleus were designated as putative parvocellular or magnocellular neurons: the former were located in the medial part of the nucleus and displayed a small fusiform soma; the latter were mostly located in the lateral part and were recognized by their large round soma. Compared with putative magnocellular neurons, parvocellular neurons generally exhibited a lower membrane capacitance, lower mIPSC frequency, and smaller mIPSC amplitude. Following adrenalectomy, the mIPSC frequency was significantly enhanced in parvo- but not magnocellular neurons. Other properties of the cells were not affected. In a second series of experiments we examined whether the increase in mIPSC frequency was due to the absence of corticosterone or caused by other effects related to adrenalectomy. The data support the former explanation since implantation of a corticosterone releasing pellet after adrenalectomy fully prevented the change in mIPSC frequency. We conclude that, in the absence of humoral negative feedback, local GABAergic input of parvocellular neurons in the paraventricular nucleus is enhanced. This may provide a compensatory mechanism necessary for maintaining controllable network activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-245
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2003
Externally publishedYes


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