Modulation of the serotonergic (5-HT) neurotransmitter system arising from the dorsal raphe nucleus (DR) is thought to support the behavioral effects of swim stress, i.e., immobility. In vivo pharmacological and anatomical studies suggest that corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) synaptic transmission closely interact to set the response of the DR to swim stress. To investigate the cellular basis of these physiological mechanisms the effects of ovine CRF (oCRF) on GABAA-dependent miniature inhibitory postsynaptic currents (mIPSCs) in 5-HT and non-5- HT DR neurons in acute mesencephalic slices obtained from rats either naïve or 24h after a 15 min swim stress session were tested. In this study, the effect of swim stress alone was to decrease the holding current, i.e., hyperpolarize the neuron, and to increase the amplitude and charge of mIPSCs recorded from non5-HT neurons. Ovine CRF (10nM) induced an increase in mIPSC frequency in 5-HT neurons recorded from naïve rats, an effect that was suppressed by swim stress. The inward current elicited by oCRF in both 5-HT and non5-HT neurons was also blocked by swim stress. Ovine CRF increased mIPSCs amplitude and charge in both 5-HT and non-5-HT neurons, but this effect was not modified by swim stress. In concert with our previous findings that swim stress decreased input resistance, action potential threshold and action potential duration and increased glutamatergic synaptic activity the overall primary effect of swim stress is to increase the excitability of 5-HT neurons. These data provide a mechanism at the cellular level for the immobility induced by swim stress and identifies critical components of the raphe circuitry responsible for the altered output of 5-HT neurons induced by swim stress.
Keywords: dorsal raphe nucleus, swim stress, serotonin, 5-HT, non5-HT, mIPSC, GABA, GABAA receptor, CRF1, CRF2