Electrophysiological properties of catecholaminergic neurons in the norepinephrine-deficient mouse

C. A. Paladini, M. J. Beckstead, D. Weinshenker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


To determine how norepinephrine affects the basic physiological properties of catecholaminergic neurons, brain slices containing the substantia nigra pars compacta and locus coeruleus were studied with cell-attached and whole-cell recordings in control and dopamine β-hydroxylase knockout (Dbh -/-) mice that lack norepinephrine. In the cell-attached configuration, the spontaneous firing rate and pattern of locus coeruleus neurons recorded from Dbh -/- mice were the same as the firing rate and pattern recorded from heterozygous littermates (Dbh +/-). During whole-cell recordings, synaptic stimulation produced an α-2 receptor-mediated outward current in the locus coeruleus of control mice that was absent in Dbh -/- mice. Normal α-2 mediated outward currents were restored in Dbh -/- slices after pre-incubation with norepinephrine. Locus coeruleus neurons also displayed similar changes in holding current in response to bath application of norepinephrine, UK 14304, and methionine-enkephalin. Dopamine neurons recorded in the substantia nigra pars compacta similarly showed no differences between slices harvested from Dbh -/- and control mice. These results indicate that endogenous norepinephrine is not necessary for the expression of catecholaminergic neuron firing properties or responses to direct agonists, but is necessary for auto-inhibition mediated by indirect α-2 receptor stimulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1067-1074
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 9 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • cocaine
  • dopamine β-hydroxylase knockout
  • locus coeruleus
  • substantia nigra pars compacta

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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