Monoaminergic modulation of GABAergic transmission onto cerebellar globular cells

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Cerebellar Purkinje cells (PCs) project their axon collaterals to underneath of the PC layer and make GABAergic synaptic contacts with globular cells, a subgroup of Lugaro cells. GABAergic transmission derived from the PC axon collaterals is so powerful that it could inhibit globular cells and regulate their firing patterns. However, the physiological properties and implications of the GABAergic synapses on globular cells remain unknown. Using whole-cell patch-clamp recordings from globular cells in the mouse cerebellum, we examined the monoaminergic modulation of GABAergic inputs to these cells. Application of either serotonin (5-HT) or noradrenaline (NA) excited globular cells, thereby leading to their firing. The 5-HT- and NA-induced firing was temporally confined and attenuated by GABAergic transmission, although 5-HT and NA exerted an inhibitory effect on the release of GABA from presynaptic terminals of PC axon collaterals. Agonists for 5-HT1B receptors and α2-adrenoceptors mimicked the 5-HT- and NA-induced suppression of GABAergic activity. Through their differential modulatory actions on the cerebellar inhibitory neural circuits, 5-HT facilitated PC firing, whereas NA suppressed it. These results indicate that 5-HT and NA regulate the membrane excitability of globular cells and PCs through their differential modulation of not only the membrane potential but also GABAergic synaptic circuits. Monoaminergic modulation of the neural connections between globular cells and PCs could play a role in cerebellar motor coordination.

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