Sex differences in GABAergic neurotransmission to rat DMV neurons

Yanyan Jiang, Tanja Babic, R. Alberto Travagli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Functional gastrointestinal disorders, including delayed gastric emptying and decreased gastric motility, are more prevalent in women, suggesting a potential role for circulating gonadal hormones, including estrogen. Gastric motility is tuned by the vagal inputs arising from the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus (DMV), which is itself controlled by tonic GABAergic inputs. Estrogen increases GABA functions in various central nervous system areas; however, the effect of the estrus cycle in modulating GABAergic inputs onto DMV neurons, hence vagal control of gastric motility, has not been investigated. The aim of the present study was to test the hypothesis that GABAergic tone to DMV neurons, hence the vagal output to the stomach, varies according to sex and the estrus cycle. Experiments were performed on age-matched Sprague-Dawley male and virgin female rats; females were subdivided according to the high-estrogen (HE) or low-estrogen (LE) period of their cycle. Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings were made from gastric-projecting DMV neurons, and the response to perfusion with the GABAA receptor antagonist bicuculline was examined. The response of corpus and antrum tone and motility to bicuculline microinjected in the dorsal vagal complex, recorded via strain gauges sewn to the anterior gastric surface, was also assessed. Bicuculline increased the firing rate of DMV neurons, as well as gastric tone and motility, to a larger extent in HE compared with LE or male rats, suggesting a higher GABAergic tone in HE female rats. Taken together, the data support the hypothesis that GABAergic tone to DMV neurons varies according to sex and estrus cycle.NEW & NOTEWORTHY GABAergic neurotransmission to the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus (DMV) plays a pivotal role in the modulation of gastric tone and motility. Gastric motility is reduced in women and may contribute to the higher incidence of functional gastrointestinal disorders. In the present study, we report that GABAergic tone to rat DMV neurons, hence vagal output to the stomach, varies according to sex and estrus cycle, and the GABAergic tone is increased during the high-estrogen period of the estrus cycle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G476-G483
JournalAmerican journal of physiology. Gastrointestinal and liver physiology
Volume317
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)

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