Extracellular pH modulates GABAergic neurotransmission in rat hypothalamus

Z. L. Chen, R. Q. Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Changes in extracellular pH have a modulatory effect on GABAA receptor function. It has been reported that pH sensitivity of the GABA receptor is dependent on subunit composition and GABA concentration. Most of previous investigations focused on GABA-evoked currents, which only reflect the postsynaptic receptors. The physiological relevance of pH modulation of GABAergic neurotransmission is not fully elucidated. In the present studies, we examined the influence of extracellular pH on the GABAA receptor-mediated inhibitory neurotransmission in rat hypothalamic neurons. The inhibitory postsynaptic currents (IPSCs), tonic currents, and the GABA-evoked currents were recorded with whole-cell patch techniques on the hypothalamic slices from Sprague-Dawley rats at 15-26 postnatal days. The amplitude and frequency of spontaneous GABA IPSCs were significantly increased while the external pH was changed from 7.3 to 8.4. In the acidic pH (6.4), the spontaneous GABA IPSCs were reduced in amplitude and frequency. The pH induced changes in miniature GABA IPSCs (mIPSCs) similar to that in spontaneous IPSCs. The pH effect on the postsynaptic GABA receptors was assessed with exogenously applied varying concentrations of GABA. The tonic currents and the currents evoked by sub-saturating concentration of GABA ([GABA]) (10μM) were inhibited by acidic pH and potentiated by alkaline pH. In contrast, the currents evoked by saturating [GABA] (1mM) were not affected by pH changes. We also investigated the influence of pH buffers and buffering capacity on pH sensitivity of GABAA receptors on human recombinant α1β2γ2 GABAA receptors stably expressed in HEK 293 cells. The pH influence on GABAA receptors was similar in HEPES- and MES-buffered media, and not dependent on protonated buffers, suggesting that the observed pH effect on GABA response is a specific consequence of changes in extracellular protons. Our data suggest that the hydrogen ions suppress the GABAergic neurotransmission, which is mediated by both presynaptic and postsynaptic mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-76
Number of pages13
JournalNeuroscience
Volume271
DOIs
StatePublished - 20 Jun 2014

Keywords

  • Acidification
  • Buffer
  • HEPES
  • Hypothalamus
  • IPSC
  • Protons

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