Characterization of pancreas-projecting rat dorsal motor nucleus of vagus neurons

Kirsteen N. Browning, F. Holly Coleman, R. Alberto Travagli

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34 Scopus citations


The electrophysiological and morphological properties of rat dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus (DMV) neurons innervating the pancreas were examined by using whole cell patch clamp recordings from brain stem slices and postfixation morphological reconstructions of Neurobiotin-filled neurons. Recordings were made from 178 DMV neurons whose projections had been identified by previous apposition of the fluorescent neuronal tracer DiI to the body of the pancreas. DMV neurons projecting to the pancreas had an input resistance of 434 ± 14 MΩ, an action potential duration of 3 ± 0.1 ms, and an afterhyperpolarization of 18 ± 0.4 mV amplitude and 108 ± 7 ms time constant of decay; these electrophysiological properties resembled those of gastric-projecting neurons but were significantly different from those of intestinal-projecting neurons. Interestingly, 14 of 178 pancreas-projecting neurons showed the presence of a slowly developing afterhyperpolarization whose presence was not reported in DMV neurons projecting to any other gastrointestinal area. The morphological characteristics of pancreas-projecting neurons (soma area 274 ± 12 μm2; soma diameter of 25 ± 0.7 μm; soma form factor 0.74 ± 0.01; segments 9.7 ± 0.41), however, were similar to those of intestinal- but differed from those of gastric-projecting neurons. In summary, these results suggest that pancreas-projecting rat DMV neurons are heterogeneous with respect to some electrophysiological and morphological properties. These differences might underlie functional differences in the vagal modulation of pancreatic functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G950-G955
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number5 51-5
StatePublished - May 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)


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