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Keywords:

  • 5-HT neurons;
  • electrophysiology;
  • immunohistochemistry;
  • serotonin;
  • Sprague–Dawley;
  • stereotyped burst

Abstract

Recent electrophysiological studies have discovered evidence of heterogeneity of 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) neurons in the mesencephalic raphe nuclei. Of particular interest is a subpopulation of putative 5-HT neurons that display many of the electrophysiological properties of presumed 5-HT-containing neurons (regular and slow firing of single spikes with a broad waveform) but fire spikes in short, stereotyped bursts. In the present study we investigated the chemical identity of these neurons in rats utilizing in vivo juxtacellular labelling methods. Of ten dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) neurons firing short stereotyped bursts within an otherwise regular firing pattern, all exhibited immunoreactivity for either 5-HT (n = 6) or the 5-HT synthesizing enzyme, tryptophan hydroxylase (TRH; n = 2) or both (n = 2). Supporting pharmacological experiments demonstrated that the burst firing DRN neurons demonstrated equal sensitivity to 5-HT1A agonism and α1-adrenoceptor antagonism to single spiking DRN neurons that we have previously identified as 5-HT-containing. Collectively these data provide direct evidence that DRN neurons that exhibit stereotyped burst firing activity are 5-HT containing. The presence of multiple types of electrophysiologically distinct midbrain 5-HT neurons is discussed.