Lamprey Acetylcholine

Cross references:    Lamprey Neurotransmitters      Acetylcholine      
Acetylcholine Gate        Acetylcholine Metabotropic Receptor   
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The acetylcholine system in the brain of cyclostomes with special references to the telencephalon.  

The transmitter distribution found in cyclostomes is compared to data from other vertebrates."  


Distribution of choline acetyltransferase-immunoreactive structures in the lamprey brain.  

In the forebrain, cholinergic cells were present in the striatum, preoptic region, paraventricular nucleus, pineal and parapineal organs, habenula, and pretectum. The cranial nerve motoneurons (III, IV, V, VI, VII, IX, and X), the first and second spino-occipital nerves (so), and the ventral horn of the spinal cord showed a strong ChAT immunoreactivity. Additional cholinergic neurons were observed: the mesencephalic M5 nucleus of Schober, two different cell populations in the isthmic region, the efferent component of the eighth nerve, putative preganglionic parasympathetic cells, cells in the solitary tract nucleus, and the rhombencephalic reticular formation. Cholinergic fibers were widely distributed in the brain. Comparison with previous studies in other vertebrates suggests that major cholinergic pathways, like tectal innervation from the isthmic region, are also present in lampreys. Of particular interest was the prominent projection to the neurohypophysis from cholinergic neurons in the preoptic region and paraventricular nucleus. Present data were analyzed within the segmental paradigm, as was previously done in other vertebrates. Our results reveal that the organization of many cholinergic systems in the lamprey as, for example, in the striatal, preoptic, and isthmic regions, comprises features of the anamniote brain that remain common to all living amniotes studied so far, thus being conservative to a surprisingly high degree. Therefore, the distribution of ChAT-immunoreactive structures in the lamprey brain is, in general, comparable to that previously described in other vertebrate species."  


Nicotinic activation of reticulospinal cells involved in the control of swimming in lampreys.

In lampreys as in other vertebrates, brainstem centres play a key role in the initiation and control of locomotion. One such centre, the mesencephalic locomotor region (MLR), was identified physiologically at the mesopontine border. Descending inputs from the MLR are relayed by reticulospinal neurons in the pons and medulla, but the mechanisms by which this is carried out remain unknown. Because previous studies in higher vertebrates and lampreys described cholinergic cells within the MLR region, we investigated the putative role of cholinergic agonists in the MLR-controlled locomotion. The local application of either acetylcholine or nicotine exerted a direct dose-dependent excitation on reticulospinal neurons as well as induced active or fictive locomotion. It also accelerated ongoing fictive locomotion. Choline acetyltransferase-immunoreactive cells were found in the region identified as the MLR of lampreys and nicotinic antagonists depressed, whereas physostigmine enhanced the compound EPSP evoked in reticulospinal neurons by electrical stimulation of this region. In addition, cholinergic inputs from the MLR to reticulospinal neurons were found to be monosynaptic. When the brainstem was perfused with d-tubocurarine, the induction of swimming by MLR stimulation was depressed, but not prevented, in a semi-intact preparation. Altogether, the results support the hypothesis that cholinergic inputs from the MLR to reticulospinal cells play a substantial role in the initiation and the control of locomotion."  


Muscarinic modulation of the trigemino-reticular pathway in lampreys.  

In lampreys, reticulospinal neurons integrate sensory inputs to adapt their control onto the spinal locomotor networks. Whether and how sensory inputs to reticulospinal neurons are modulated remains to be determined. We showed recently that cholinergic inputs onto reticulospinal neurons play a key role in the initiation of locomotion elicited by stimulation of the mesencephalic locomotor region in semi intact lampreys. Here, we examined the possible role of muscarinic acetylcholine receptors in modulating trigeminal inputs to reticulospinal neurons. A local application of muscarinic agonists onto an intracellularly recorded reticulospinal cell depressed the disynaptic responses to trigeminal stimulation. A depression was also observed when muscarinic agonists were pressure ejected over the brain stem region containing second-order neurons relaying trigeminal inputs to reticulospinal neurons. Conversely, muscarinic antagonists increased the trigeminal-evoked responses, suggesting that a muscarinic depression of sensory inputs to RS neurons is exerted tonically. The muscarinic modulation affected predominantly the N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) component of the trigeminal-evoked responses. Moreover, atropine perfusion facilitated the occurrence of sustained depolarizations induced by stimulation of the trigeminal nerve, and it revealed NMDA-induced intrinsic oscillations in reticulospinal neurons. The functional significance of a muscarinic modulation of a sensory transmission to reticulospinal neurons is discussed. 
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Cholinergic modulation of the locomotor network in the lamprey spinal cord.  

It is concluded that ACh is an endogenous modulator of the locomotor network in the lamprey spinal cord and that ACh may take part in the regulation of cycle period, intersegmental coupling, and ventral root burst duration."   - Free full text - 

Cellular and synaptic actions of acetylcholine in the lamprey spinal cord.

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from the Abstract:      
    "This study investigated cellular and synaptic mechanisms of cholinergic neuromodulation in the in vitro lamprey spinal cord.  
    Most spinal neurons tested responded to local application of acetylcholine (ACh) with depolarization and decreased input resistance. The depolarization persisted in the presence of either tetrodotoxin or muscarinic antagonist scopolamine and was abolished with nicotinic antagonist mecamylamine, indicating a direct depolarization through nicotinic ACh receptors.  
    Local application of muscarinic ACh agonists modulated synaptic strength in the spinal cord by decreasing the amplitude of unitary excitatory and inhibitory postsynaptic potentials. The postsynaptic response to direct application of glutamate was unchanged by muscarinic agonists, suggesting a presynaptic mechanism.  
    Cholinergic feedback from motoneurons was assessed using stimulation of a ventral root in the quiescent spinal cord while recording intracellularly from spinal motoneurons or interneurons. Mainly depolarizing potentials were observed, a portion of which was insensitive to removal of extracellular Ca2+, indicating electrotonic coupling.     
    Hyperpolarizing potentials were also observed and were attenuated by the glycinergic antagonist strychnine, whereas depolarizing responses were potentiated by strychnine.  
    Mecamylamine also reduced hyperpolarizing responses. The pharmacology of these responses suggests a Renshaw-like feedback pathway in lamprey.  
    Immunohistochemistry for choline acetyltransferase, performed in combination with retrograde filling of motoneurons, demonstrated a population of nonmotoneuron cholinergic cells in the lamprey spinal cord. Thus endogenous cholinergic modulation of the lamprey spinal locomotor network is likely produced by both motoneurons and cholinergic interneurons acting via combined postsynaptic and presynaptic actions.


Chapter 4--supraspinal control of locomotion: the mesencephalic locomotor region.  

Locomotion is a basic motor function generated and controlled by genetically defined neuronal networks. The pattern of muscle synergies is generated in the spinal cord, whereas neural centers located above the spinal cord in the brainstem and the forebrain are essential for initiating and controlling locomotor movements. One such locomotor control center in the brainstem is the mesencephalic locomotor region (MLR), first discovered in cats and later found in all vertebrate species tested to date. Over the last years, we have investigated the cellular mechanisms by which this locomotor region operates in lampreys. The lamprey MLR is a well-circumscribed region located at the junction between the midbrain and hindbrain. Stimulation of the MLR induces locomotion with an intensity that increases with the stimulation strength. Glutamatergic and cholinergic monosynaptic inputs from the MLR are responsible for excitation of reticulospinal (RS) cells that in turn activate the spinal locomotor networks. The inputs are larger in the rostral than in the caudal hindbrain RS cells. MLR stimulation on one side elicits symmetrical excitatory inputs in RS cells on both sides, and this is linked to bilateral projections of the MLR to RS cells. In addition to its inputs to RS cells, the MLR activates a well-defined group of muscarinoceptive cells in the brainstem that feeds back strong excitation to RS cells in order to amplify the locomotor output. Finally, the MLR gates sensory inputs to the brainstem through a muscarinic mechanism. It appears therefore that the MLR not only controls locomotor activity but also filters sensory influx during locomotion."