• blood pressure regulation;
  • immobilization;
  • stress;
  • noise;
  • tail pinch;
  • push-pull superfusion


To investigate the function of serotonergic neurons within the locus coeruleus, this brain nucleus of conscious, freely moving rats was superfused with artificial cerebrospinal fluid through a push-pull cannula and the extracellular concentration of serotonin was determined in the superfusate. Serotonin release was increased by depolarization with veratridine (5 μM) or 80 mM K+, while superfusion with tetrodotoxin (1 μM) or systemic administration of 8–hydroxy-2–(di-n-propylamino)tetralin substantially diminished the release rate of serotonin in the locus coeruleus. The pressor response to intravenous infusion of noradrenaline (4 μg/kg/min) was associated with a pronounced increase in the release rate of serotonin. Superfusion of the locus coeruleus with tetrodotoxin (1 μM) abolished the increase in serotonin release evoked by the pressor response. A fall of blood pressure produced by intravenous administration of nitroprusside (150 μg/kg/min) or chlorisondamine (3 mg/kg) diminished the release rate of serotonin. Immobilization, noise (95 dB) or tail pinch increased the release of serotonin in the locus coeruleus and slightly elevated blood pressure. Chlorisondamine abolished the rise in blood pressure elicited by tail pinch without influencing the increased serotonin release. Tail pinch-induced serotonin release was abolished by superfusion with tetrodotoxin. The findings demonstrate that neuronal serotonin release in the locus coeruleus responds to cardiovascular and sensory stimuli, suggesting a function of serotonergic neurons in central blood pressure regulation, as well as in the modulation of locus coeruleus activity by stress and noxious stimuli.