Open Access Research

Identification of 5-HT receptor subtypes enhancing inhibitory transmission in the rat spinal dorsal horn in vitro

Du-Jie Xie12, Daisuke Uta3, Peng-Yu Feng2, Masahito Wakita1, Min-Chul Shin1, Hidemasa Furue3 and Megumu Yoshimura12*

Author Affiliations

1 Graduate School of Health Sciences, Kumamoto Health Science University, Kumamoto, 861-5598, Japan

2 Department of Integrative Physiology, Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, 812-8582, Japan

3 Department of Information Physiology, National Institute for Physiological Sciences, Okazaki, 444-8787, Japan

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Molecular Pain 2012, 8:58  doi:10.1186/1744-8069-8-58

Published: 20 August 2012



5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) is one of the major neurotransmitters widely distributed in the CNS. Several 5-HT receptor subtypes have been identified in the spinal dorsal horn which act on both pre- and postsynaptic sites of excitatory and inhibitory neurons. However, the receptor subtypes and sites of actions as well as underlying mechanism are not clarified rigorously. Several electrophysiological studies have been performed to investigate the effects of 5-HT on excitatory transmission in substantia gelatinosa (SG) of the spinal cord. In the present study, to understand the effects of 5-HT on the inhibitory synaptic transmission and to identify receptor subtypes, the blind whole cell recordings were performed from SG neurons of rat spinal cord slices.


Bath applied 5-HT (50 μM) increased the frequency but not amplitudes of spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic currents (sIPSCs) in 58% of neurons, and both amplitude and frequency in 23% of neurons. The frequencies of GABAergic and glycinergic mIPSCs were both enhanced. TTX (0.5 μM) had no effect on the increasing frequency, while the enhancement of amplitude of IPSCs was eliminated. Evoked-IPSCs (eIPSCs) induced by focal stimulation near the recording neurons in the presence of CNQX and APV were enhanced in amplitude by 5-HT. In the presence of Ba2+ (1 mM), a potassium channel blocker, 5-HT had no effect on both frequency and amplitude. A 5-HT2A receptor agonist, TCB-2 mimicked the 5-HT effect, and ketanserin, an antagonist of 5-HT2A receptor, inhibited the effect of 5-HT partially and TCB-2 almost completely. A 5-HT2C receptor agonist WAY 161503 mimicked the 5-HT effect and this effect was blocked by a 5-HT2C receptor antagonist, N-desmethylclozapine. The amplitudes of sIPSCs were unaffected by 5-HT2A or 5-HT2C agonists. A 5-HT3 receptor agonist mCPBG enhanced both amplitude and frequency of sIPSCs. This effect was blocked by a 5-HT3 receptor antagonist ICS-205,930. The perfusion of 5-HT2B receptor agonist had no effect on sIPSCs.


Our results demonstrated that 5-HT modulated the inhibitory transmission in SG by the activation of 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C receptors subtypes located predominantly at inhibitory interneuron terminals, and 5-HT3 receptors located at inhibitory interneuron terminals and soma-dendrites, consequently enhanced both frequency and amplitude of IPSCs.

IPSC; 5-HT receptor; Substantia gelatinosa; Presynaptic release