Interaction of extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase 1/2 with actin cytoskeleton in supraoptic oxytocin neurons and astrocytes: role in burst firing.
A possible role for vasopressin and oxytocin in the physiology of the supraoptic nucleus was investigated using nystatin-perforated patch recording in acute brain slices from the rat containing the supraoptic nucleus. We observed that exogenously applied oxytocin reduced glutamate-mediated synaptic transmission by acting at a presynaptic oxytocin receptor. Endogenous oxytocin, released either by afferent excitation (tetanus) or by postsynaptic depolarization of the recorded magnocellular neurone caused a similar reduction of excitatory input and this could be blocked with an oxytocin antagonist. Thus endogenous oxytocin, released from magnocellular dendrites, acts as a retrograde transmitter to reduce afferent excitation. We discuss the possible significance of these results in terms of the physiological role of oxytocin in the intact animal and suggest possible avenues for further experimentation.