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Keywords:

  • amino acid;
  • inhibitory neurotransmitter;
  • monoamine;
  • noradrenaline;
  • paradoxical sleep;
  • serotonin

Abstract

The amino acid glycine is a major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brainstem and is likely involved in the tonic inhibition of the monoaminergic neurons during all sleep-waking stages. In order to determine the neurons at the origin of the glycinergic innervation of the two principal monoaminergic nuclei, the locus coeruleus and the dorsal raphe of the rat, we applied a double-labelling technique, combining retrograde transport of cholera-toxin B subunit with glycine immunohistochemistry. Using this technique, we found that the locus coeruleus and dorsal raphe nuclei receive a common glycinergic innervation from the ventral and ventrolateral periaqueductal grey, including the adjacent deep mesencephalic reticular nucleus. Small additional glycinergic inputs to these nuclei originated from the lateral paragigantocellular nucleus and the rostral ventromedial medullary reticular formation. The potential role of these glycinergic inputs in the control of the excitability of the monoaminergic neurons of the locus coeruleus and dorsal raphe nuclei is discussed.