The peptides of the tachykinin family are widely distributed within the mammalian peripheral and central nervous systems and play a well-recognized role as neuromodulators, although their direct action on cerebellum granule cells have not yet been demonstrated. We have examined the effect of the best known members of the family, substance P (SP), neurokinin A (NKA), and neurokinin B (NKB) on α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptors from rat cerebellar granule cells in culture to assess the ability of these peptides to regulate the glutamatergic input. Both NKA and NKB, but not SP, produce a significant enhancement of ionic current through AMPA receptors activated by the agonist kainate in 53.5 and 46% of patched neurons, respectively. This effect was not observable in the presence of MEN 10,627 and Trp7βAla8, NKA and NKB competitive antagonist receptors, respectively, indicating that the current modulations were mediated by the respective receptors. NKB also produces a significant enhancement of ionic current through the AMPA receptors activated directly by its agonist AMPA and cyclothiazide, an allosteric modulator that selectively suppresses desensitization of AMPA receptors. The presence of NK3 receptors was demonstrated in these neurons by RT-PCR amplification of total RNA extracted from cerebellar granule cells, using NK3-specific primer pairs. Immunocytochemistry experiments, using a specific polyclonal antibody directed against NK3, also confirmed the presence of NK3 receptors and their co-localization with the GLUR2 AMPA subunit in about 54% of cerebellar granule neurons. This study adds the tachykinins to the list of neuromodulators capable of exerting a excitatory action on cerebellar granule cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas