GABA selectively controls the secretory activity of oxytocin neurons in the rat supraoptic nucleus

Mario Engelmann, Philip M Bull, Colin H Brown, Rainer Landgraf, Thomas F W Horn, Nicolas Singewald, Mike Ludwig, Carsten T Wotjak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Recently we reported that a single social defeat experience triggers the release of oxytocin (OXT) from somata and dendrites, but not axon terminals, of neurons of the hypothalamic-neurohypophysial system. To further investigate the regulatory mechanisms underlying this dissociated release, we exposed male Wistar rats to a 30-min social defeat and monitored release of the inhibitory amino acids gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) and taurine within the hypothalamic supraoptic nucleus (SON) using microdialysis. Social defeat caused a significant increase in the release of both GABA and taurine within the SON (up to 480%; P < 0.01 vs. prestress release). To reveal the physiological significance of centrally released GABA, the specific GABAA-receptor antagonist bicuculline (0.02 mm) was administered into the SON via retrodialysis. This approach caused a significant increase in the release of OXT both within the SON and into the blood under basal conditions and during stress (up to 300 and 200%, respectively; P < 0.05 vs. basal values), without affecting plasma vasopressin. Electrophysiological studies confirmed the selective action of bicuculline on the firing activity of OXT neurons in the SON. Taken together, our data demonstrate that GABA is released within the SON during emotional stress to act as a selective inhibitor of both central and peripheral OXT secretion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)601-8
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2004

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Action Potentials
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Bicuculline
  • Cholecystokinin
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Drug Administration Routes
  • Electrophysiology
  • Fluorometry
  • GABA Antagonists
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Male
  • Microdialysis
  • Neurons
  • Oxytocin
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Supraoptic Nucleus
  • Taurine
  • Vasopressins
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid


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