Dose 2014

2014 - PLoS One 2014, 9(3):e92967.

Nanomolar oxytocin synergizes with weak electrical afferent stimulation to activate the locomotor CpG of the rat spinal cord in vitro

Dose F, Zanon P, Coslovich T, Taccola G.


Synergizing the effect of afferent fibre stimulation with pharmacological interventions is a desirable goal to trigger spinal locomotor activity, especially after injury. Thus, to better understand the mechanisms to optimize this process, we studied the role of the neuropeptide oxytocin (previously shown to stimulate locomotor networks) on network and motoneuron properties using the isolated neonatal rat spinal cord. On motoneurons oxytocin (1 nM-1 μM) generated sporadic bursts with superimposed firing and dose-dependent depolarization. No desensitization was observed despite repeated applications. Tetrodotoxin completely blocked the effects of oxytocin, demonstrating the network origin of the responses. Recording motoneuron pool activity from lumbar ventral roots showed oxytocin mediated depolarization with synchronous bursts, and depression of reflex responses in a stimulus and peptide-concentration dependent fashion. Disinhibited bursting caused by strychnine and bicuculline was accelerated by oxytocin whose action was blocked by the oxytocin antagonist atosiban. Fictive locomotion appeared when subthreshold concentrations of NMDA plus 5HT were coapplied with oxytocin, an effect prevented after 24 h incubation with the inhibitor of 5HT synthesis, PCPA. When fictive locomotion was fully manifested, oxytocin did not change periodicity, although cycle amplitude became smaller. A novel protocol of electrical stimulation based on noisy waveforms and applied to one dorsal root evoked stereotypic fictive locomotion. Whenever the stimulus intensity was subthreshold, low doses of oxytocin triggered fictive locomotion although oxytocin per se did not affect primary afferent depolarization evoked by dorsal root pulses. Among the several functional targets for the action of oxytocin at lumbar spinal cord level, the present results highlight how small concentrations of this peptide could bring spinal networks to threshold for fictive locomotion in combination with other protocols, and delineate the use of oxytocin to strengthen the efficiency of electrical stimulation to activate locomotor circuits.


Copyright © 2013 SISSA. Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati

via Bonomea, 265 - 34136 Trieste ITALY