Vesicular glutamate transporters (VGLUTs) are known to be important in the uptake of glutamate into vesicles in the presynaptic terminal; thereby playing a role in synaptic function. VGLUT dysfunction has also been suggested in neurological and psychiatric disorders such as epilepsy and schizophrenia. A number of compounds have been identified as VGLUT inhibitors; however, little is known as to how these compounds affect synaptic transmission. We therefore investigated the effects of structurally unrelated VGLUT inhibitors on synaptic transmission in the rodent hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.
In the CA1 and dentate gyrus regions of the in vitro slice preparation of mouse hippocampus, AMPA receptor-mediated field excitatory postsynaptic potentials (fEPSPs) were evoked in response to Schaffer collateral/commissural pathway stimulation. Application of the VGLUT inhibitors Rose Bengal (RB), Congo Red (CR) or Chicago Sky Blue 6B (CB) resulted in a concentration-related reduction of fEPSP amplitudes. RB (30 μM) or CB (300 μM) also depressed NMDA receptor-mediated responses in the CA1 region. The naturally occurring kynurenine Xanthurenic Acid (XA) is reported to be a VGLUT inhibitor. We found XA attenuated both AMPA and NMDA receptor-mediated synaptic transmission. The potency order of the VGLUT inhibitors was consistent with literature Ki values for VGLUT inhibition.
Impaired glutamatergic neurotransmission is believed to contribute to schizophrenia, and VGLUTs have also been implicated in this disease. We therefore investigated the effect of VGLUT inhibition in the prefrontal cortex. Application of the VGLUT inhibitors RB or CB resulted in a concentration-dependent reduction in the amplitude of glutamate receptor-mediated fEPSPs recorded in layer V/VI in response to stimulation in the forceps minor.
We conclude that VGLUT inhibitors can modulate glutamatergic synaptic transmission in the PFC and hippocampus. This could be important in the pathophysiology of nervous system disorders and might represent a target for developing novel pharmacological therapies.