Action of Ethanol and Zolpidem on gamma-Aminobutyric Acid Responses from Cerebellar Purkinje Neurons: Relationship to beta-Adrenergic Receptor Input

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The observation that cerebellar Purkinje cells contain type-I benzodiazepine-sensitive GABAA receptors is consistent with findings in the present work that the majority of Purkinje neurons are sensitive to enhancement of GABA by the type-1 benzodiazepine agonist, zolpidem. Previous work has demonstrated a relation between zolpidem and ethanol enhancement of GABA responses in several brain regions, but had not tested Purkinje neurons. Therefore, given that a majority of Purkinje neurons were found to be sensitive to zolpidem, ethanol would have been expected to enhance GABA responses from this cell type. However, in agreement with earlier electrophysiological studies, ethanol enhanced GABA inhibitory responses from only a small proportion of these cerebellar Purkinje neurons. Rather than enhancement of GABA, local application of ethanol either inhibited or did not affect responses to GABA from a majority of cerebellar-Purkinje neurons. Nonetheless, as previously reported, a portion of the Purkinje neurons initially insensitive to ethanol enhancement of GABA became sensitive to this action of ethanol with co-application of the beta-adrenergic agonist, isoproterenol. Thus, these results collectively implicate a beta-adrenergic input dependency for ethanol enhancement of GABA from some, but not all, cerebellar Purkinje neurons sensitive to zolpidem. Because a beta-adrenergic input did not allow ethanol enhancement of GABA from all Purkinje neurons, future studies should explore the possibility that other auxiliary neural inputs to zolpidem-sensitive cerebellar Purkinje neurons may be required for ethanol enhancement of GABA responsiveness when a beta-adrenergic input does not have this action. Likewise, knowing that the action of zolpidem can predict ethanol enhancement of GABA in other brain regions, the present findings suggest that a future determination be made concerning whether zolpidem-sensitive neurons in these other regions of brain require a beta-adrenergic or an alternative neural input for ethanol enhancement of GABA responses.

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