Enhancing GABAergic Tone in the Rostral Nucleus of the Solitary Tract Reconfigures Sensorimotor Neural Activity.

TitleEnhancing GABAergic Tone in the Rostral Nucleus of the Solitary Tract Reconfigures Sensorimotor Neural Activity.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsSammons JD, Bass CE, Victor JD, Di Lorenzo PM
JournalJ Neurosci
Date Published2020 Nov 24

Recent work has shown that most cells in the rostral, gustatory portion of the nucleus tractus solitarius (rNTS) in awake, freely licking rats show lick-related firing. However, the relationship between taste-related and lick-related activity in rNTS remains unclear. Here, we tested if GABA-derived inhibitory activity regulates the balance of lick- and taste-driven neuronal activity. Combinatorial viral tools were used to restrict expression of ChR2-EYFP to GAD1+ GABAergic neurons. Viral infusions were bilateral in rNTS. A fiberoptic fiber attached to a bundle of drivable microwires was later implanted into the rNTS. After recovery, water-deprived rats were presented with taste stimuli in an experimental chamber. Trials were 5 consecutive taste licks [NaCl, KCl, NHCl, sucrose, MSG/IMP, citric acid, quinine, or artificial saliva (AS)] separated by 5 AS rinse licks on a VR5 schedule. Each taste lick triggered a 1s train of laser light (25Hz; 473nm; 8-10mW) in a random half of the trials. In all, 113 cells were recorded in the rNTS, 50 responded to one or more taste stimuli without GABA enhancement. Selective changes in response magnitude (spike count) within cells shifted across-unit patterns but preserved inter-stimulus relationships. Cells where enhanced GABAergic tone increased lick coherence conveyed more information distinguishing basic taste qualities and different salts than other cells. In addition, GABA activation significantly amplified the amount of information that discriminated palatable vs. unpalatable tastants. By dynamically regulating lick coherence and remodeling the across-unit response patterns to taste, enhancing GABAergic tone in rNTS reconfigures the neural activity reflecting sensation and movement.The rostral nucleus tractus solitarius (rNTS) is the first structure in the central gustatory pathway. Electrophysiological recordings from the rNTS in awake, freely-licking animals show that cells in this area have lick- as well as taste-related activity, but the relationship between these characteristics is not well understood. Here, we showed evidence that GABA activation can dynamically regulate both of these properties in rNTS cells to enhance the information conveyed, especially about palatable vs. unpalatable tastants. These data provide insights into the role of inhibitory activity in the rNTS.

Alternate JournalJ Neurosci
PubMed ID33234608