Optogenetic Activation of PVN-projecting MnPO Neurons Induces Changes in Type I PVN Neurons




Paundralingga, Obed
Cunningham, J. Thomas


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The paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN) is an important autonomic control center that receives afferent inputs from the median preoptic nucleus (MnPO). The link between the MnPO and the PVN is essential in generating chronic intermittent hypoxia hypertension. An optogenetic intersectional viral approach was used to gain more insight into the contribution of MnPO inputs to changes in PVN function that could contribute to hypertension. Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were anesthetized with isoflurane and injected with 100 nL of AAV9.hSyn.HI.eGFP-cre.WPRE.SV40 in the PVN bilaterally and AAV1-Ef1a-DIO-hChR2(H134R)-mCherry-WPRE-HGHpA in the MnPO. This method induced a CRE-dependent expression of channel rhodopsin in PVN-projecting MnPO neurons. Three weeks after the injections, the rats were sacrificed and oblique brain slices containing PVN were made. Postsynaptic currents (PSCs) were recorded from PVN neurons (VHold = -70 mV) with an aCSF (2-3 ml/min) bath solution. MnPO axon terminals in the PVN were stimulated with 15 Hz LED-generated blue light (470nM) pulses of 20-ms duration for a total of 1 min with an optical fiber directed at PVN. The stimulation train was repeated 5 times at 5 minutes intervals. PSCs were recorded for 40 minutes, including 5 min baseline periods before stimuli and 10 min post-stimulation period. Intrinsic excitability was assessed before the first baseline and after the last stimulation. Cells were characterized as type I, type II, or type III PVN neurons based on the presence of transient outward rectification. Amplitude and frequency data were analyzed offline using Easy Electrophysiology v2.5.0 software from a total of 17 Type I PVN neurons. Optogenetic stimulation evoked EPSC or mixed EPSC/IPSCs in 13 Type I neurons. From the 13 photo-evoked neurons, 10 neurons showed a significant increase in EPSC frequency following intermittent stimulation as compared to the preceding baseline (1st: 6.149±1.438 Hz vs 27.377±5.474 Hz, p=0.0187; 2nd 7.532±1.670 Hz vs 27.562±5.514 Hz, p=0.0161; 3rd 7.395±1.659 Hz vs 25.415±5.028 Hz, p=0.0170; 4th 7.343±1.466 Hz vs 24.225±4.750 Hz, p=0.0183; 5th 6.709±1.375 Hz vs 21.837±4.464 Hz, p=0.0220). In the same neurons, spontaneous EPSC frequency in the first minute after stimulation trains 1 to 4 also was significantly higher than the first pre-stimulus baseline but the effect gradually decreased over time (baseline 6.149±1.438 Hz vs 14.615±3.260 Hz, p=0.0236; vs 12.055±2.519 Hz, p=0.0213; vs 10.904±2.340 Hz, p=0.0247; vs 9.801±2.027 Hz, p=0.0331). There were no changes in EPSC amplitude. More type I neurons with photo-evoked PSCs showed increased excitability after the last stimulus (4 out of 7) than those which did not respond to the optogenetic light (2 out of 6). Repetitive optogenetic stimulation of MnPO inputs to Type I PVN neurons increased EPSC frequency and intrinsic excitability in a time-dependent manner. Additional experiments will be needed to specify the mechanism behind the increase in frequency and whether this phenomenon occurs in other PVN cell types.