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Keywords:

  • baclofen;
  • basket cell;
  • inhibitory postsynaptic current;
  • patch clamp;
  • presynaptic inhibition

Abstract

Purkinje cells, the output neurons of the cerebellar cortex, receive inhibitory input from basket, stellate and neighbouring Purkinje cells. The aim of the present study was to clarify the role of GABAB receptors on neurons giving inhibitory input to Purkinje cells. In sagittal slices prepared from the cerebellar vermis of the rat, the GABAB receptor agonist baclofen lowered the frequency and amplitude of spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic currents (IPSCs) recorded in Purkinje cells. These effects were prevented by the GABAB receptor antagonist CGP 55845. Two mechanisms were involved in the depression of the inhibitory input to Purkinje cells. The first mechanism was suppression of the firing of basket, stellate and Purkinje cells. The second mechanism was presynaptic inhibition of GABA release from terminals of the afferent axons. This was indicated by the finding that baclofen decreased the amplitude of IPSCs occurring in Purkinje cells synchronously with action potentials recorded in basket cells. A further support for the presynaptic inhibition is the observation that baclofen decreased the amplitude of autoreceptor currents which are due to activation of GABAA autoreceptors at axon terminals of basket cells by synaptically released GABA. The presynaptic inhibition was partly due to direct inhibition of the vesicular release mechanism, because baclofen lowered the frequency of miniature IPSCs recorded in Purkinje cells in the presence of cadmium and in the presence of tetrodotoxin plus ionomycin. The results show that activation of GABAB receptors decreased GABAA receptor-mediated synaptic input to cerebellar Purkinje cells both by lowering the firing rate of the inhibitory input neurons and by inhibiting GABA release from their axon terminals with a presynaptic mechanism.