Actions of norepinephrine in the rat hippocampus

Acting at postsynaptic alpha 1- and beta 1-receptors, norepinephrine (NE) exerts a complex action in rat hippocampus. It is currently believed that beta 1-receptor activation enhances excitability of recorded neurons, whereas alpha 1 activation suppresses reactivity to afferent stimulation. These reported effects of alpha-agonists are not consistent with alpha 1 effects found elsewhere in the brain. We have conducted experiments in the anesthetized rat and found that an amphetamine-induced increase in the dentate gyrus population spike can be blocked by a beta-antagonist but also by an alpha 1-antagonist. We have conducted experiments in the brain slide preparation and found that an alpha-agonist, phenylephrine (PHE), selectively enhances responses to N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) but not to quisqualate. We propose that the product of activation of both alpha- and beta-receptor types will enhance reactivity of hippocampal cells to afferent stimulation.


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