Glutamatergic drive facilitates synaptic inhibition of dorsal vagal motor neurons after experimentally induced diabetes in mice

Carie R. Boychuk, Bret N. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The role of central regulatory circuits in modulating diabetes-associated glucose dysregu-lation has only recently been under rigorous investigation. One brain region of interest is the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus (DMV), which contains preganglionic parasympathetic motor neurons that regulate subdiaphragmatic visceral function. Previous research has demonstrated that glutamatergic and GABAergic neurotransmission are independently remodeled after chronic hyperglycemia/hypoinsulinemia. However, glutamatergic circuitry within the dorsal brain stem impinges on GABAergic regulation of the DMV. The present study investigated the role of glutamatergic neurotransmission in synaptic GABAergic control of DMV neurons after streptozotocin (STZ)-induced hyperglycemia/hypoinsulinemia by using electrophysiological recordings in vitro. The frequency of spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic currents (sIPSCs) was elevated in DMV neurons from STZ-treated mice. The effect was abolished in the presence of the ionotropic glutamate receptor blocker kynurenic acid or the sodium channel blocker tetrodotoxin, suggesting that after STZ-induced hyperglycemia/hypoinsulinemia, increased glutamatergic receptor activity occurs at a soma-dendritic location on local GABA neurons projecting to the DMV. Although sIPSCs in DMV neurons normally demonstrated considerable amplitude variability, this variability was significantly increased after STZ-induced hyperglycemia/hypoinsulinemia. The elevated amplitude variability was not related to changes in quantal release, but rather correlated with significantly elevated frequency of sIPSCs in these mice. Taken together, these findings suggest that GABAergic regulation of central vagal circuitry responsible for the regulation of energy homeostasis undergoes complex functional reorganization after several days of hyperglycemia/hypoinsulinemia, including both glutamate-dependent and -independent forms of plasticity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1498-1506
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain stem
  • Diabetes
  • GABA
  • Glutamate
  • Synapse
  • Vagus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology


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