GSBS Student Publications


Intrinsic and synaptic long-term depression of NTS relay of nociceptin- and capsaicin-sensitive cardiopulmonary afferents hyperactivity

UMMS Affiliation

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; Program in Neuroscience; Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology



Document Type



Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


The nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS) in the caudal medulla is a gateway for a variety of cardiopulmonary afferents important for homeostatic regulation and defense against airway and cardiovascular insults and is a key central target potentially mediating the response habituation to these inputs. Here, whole-cell and field population action potential recordings and infrared imaging in rat brainstem slices in vitro revealed a compartmental pain-pathway-like organization of capsaicin-facilitated vs. nocistatin-facilitated/nociceptin-suppressed neuronal clusters in an NTS region, which receives cardiopulmonary A- and C-fiber afferents with differing capsaicin sensitivities. All capsaicin-sensitive neurons and a fraction of nociceptin-sensitive neurons expressed N-methyl-D: -aspartate (NMDA) receptor-dependent synaptic long-term depression (LTD) following afferent stimulation. All neurons also expressed activity-dependent decrease of excitability (intrinsic LTD), which converted to NMDA receptor-dependent intrinsic long-term potentiation after GABA(A) receptor blockade. Thus, distinct intrinsic and synaptic LTD mechanisms in the NTS specific to the relay of A- or C-fiber afferents may underlie the response habituation to persistent afferents hyperactivity that are associated with varying physiologic challenges and cardiopulmonary derangements-including hypertension, chronic cough, asthmatic bronchoconstriction, sustained elevated lung volume in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or in continuous positive-airway-pressure therapy for sleep apnea, metabolic acidosis, and prolonged exposure to hypoxia at high altitude.

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Citation: Pflugers Arch. 2008 Aug 14. Link to article on publisher's site

DOI of Published Version


Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal Title

Pflugers Archiv : European journal of physiology

PubMed ID