• tonic GABAA current;
  • supraoptic nucleus;
  • water deprivation;
  • vasopressin;
  • oxytocin

In supraoptic nucleus (SON) magnocellular neurosecretory cells (MNCs), γ-GABA, via activation of GABAA receptors (GABAARs), mediates persistent tonic inhibitory currents (Itonic), as well as conventional inhibitory postsynaptic currents (IPSCs, Iphasic). In the present study, we examined the functional significance of Itonic in SON MNCs challenged by 24-h water deprivation (24WD). Although the main characteristics of spontaneous IPSCs were similar in 24WD compared to euhydrated (EU) rats, Itonic, measured by bicuculline (BIC)-induced Iholding shifts, was significantly smaller in 24WD compared to EU rats (P < 0.05). Propofol and diazepam prolonged IPSC decay time to a similar extent in both groups but induced less Itonic in 24WD compared to EU rats, suggesting a selective decrease in GABAA receptors mediating Itonic over Iphasic in 24WD rats. THIP (4,5,6,7-tetrahydroisoxazolo[5,4-c]pyridin-3-ol), a preferential δ subunit agonist, and L-655,708, a GABAA receptor α5 subunit selective imidazobenzodiazepine, caused a significantly smaller inward and outward shift in Iholding, respectively, in 24WD compared to EU rats (P < 0.05 in both cases), suggesting an overall decrease in the α5 subunit-containing GABAARs and the δ subunit-containing receptors mediating Itonic in 24WD animals. Consistent with a decrease in 24WD Itonic, bath application of GABA induced significantly less inhibition of the neuronal firing activity in 24WD compared to EU SON MNCs (P < 0.05). Taken together, the results of the present study indicate a selective decrease in GABAARs functions mediating Itonic as opposed to those mediating Iphasic in SON MNCs, demonstrating the functional significance of Itonic with respect to increasing neuronal excitability and hormone secretion in 24WD rats.