The role of GABA and serotonin in the mediation of raphe-evoked spinal cord dorsal root potentials

Herbert K. Proudfit, Alice A. Larson, Edmund G. Anderson

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The possible involvement of bulbospinal serotonergic systems in the mediation of analgesia has created a need for a better understanding of the influence this system has on neuronal mechanisms in the spinal cord. Therefore, these studies were designed to examine the effects of caudal raphe stimulation on primary afferent depolarization and to determine the role of serotonin (5-HT) and GABA in the mediation of these stimulation-produced effects. Stimulation of the raphe evoked two electronically conducted dorsal root potentials (DRP-1 and DRP-2) and two compound action potentials (VRP-1 and VRP-2) which were recorded from the dorsal and ventral roots, respectively. Length constant measurements indicated that DRP-1 was generated in group II and DRP-2 in group I primary afferent fibers. Histological determination of stimulation sites revealed that short-latency potentials (DRP-1 and VRP-1) were evoked from many sites within the caudal brain stem, while the long-latency potentials (DRP-2 and VRP-2) were evoked primarily from sites within the caudal raphe nuclei. The role of serotonin in mediating these evoked potentials was assessed by administering various antagonists of serotonin (cinanserin, methysergide andd-lysergic acid diethylamide). These agents consistently attenuated the long-latency potentials (DRP-2 and VRP-2) but increased the magnitude of DRP-1. The possibility of a GABAergic neuron in the descending systems projecting to primary afferent terminals was studied. Depletion of GABA by semicarbazide blocked DRP-1, but had only a modest effect on DRP-2. However, the putative GABA antagonist, bicuculline, inhibited both DRP-1 and DRP-2. These results suggest that a GABA interneuron is not involved in the bulbospinal serotonergic depolarization of primary afferent terminals. This system appears to contitute a presynaptic filter of afferent input, with the capacity to inhibit different fiber groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-165
Number of pages17
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 11 1980
Externally publishedYes


  • GABA
  • dorsal root potential
  • raphe nucleus
  • serotonin
  • serotonin antagonist
  • spinal cord


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