In neonatal spinal cord, we previously reported that exogenous angiotensin II (ANG II) acts at postsynaptic AT1 receptors to depolarize neonatal rat spinal ventral horn neurons in vitro. This study evaluated an associated increase in synaptic activity. Patch clamp recordings revealed that 38/81 thoracolumbar (T7-L5) motoneurons responded to bath applied ANG II (0.3-1 μM 30 s) with a prolonged (5-10 min) and reversible increase in spontaneous postsynaptic activity, selectively blockable with Losartan (n = 5) but not PD123319 (n = 5). ANG-II-induced events included both spontaneous inhibitory (IPSCs; n = 6) and excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs; n = 5). While most ANG induced events were tetrodotoxin-sensitive, ANG induced a significant tetrodotoxin-resistant increase in frequency but not amplitude of miniature IPSCs (n = 7/13 cells) and EPSCs (n = 2/7 cells). In 35/77 unidentified neurons, ANG II also induced a tetrodotoxin-sensitive and prolonged increase in their spontaneous synaptic activity that featured both IPSCs (n = 5) and EPSCs (n = 4) when tested in the presence of selective amino acid receptor antagonists. When tested in the presence of tetrodotoxin, ANGII was noted to induce a significant increase in the frequency but not the amplitude of mIPSCs (n = 9) and mEPSCs (n = 8). ANG also increased spontaneous motor activity from isolated mouse lumbar ventral rootlets. Collectively, these observations support the existence of a wide pre- and postsynaptic distribution of ANG II AT1 receptors in neonatal ventral spinal cord that are capable of influencing both inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmission.
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