Combined hypoxia and hypercapnia, but not hypoxia alone, suppresses neurotransmission from orexin to hypothalamic paraventricular spinally-projecting neurons in weanling rats

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Brain Research






Hypercapnia; Hypoxia; Neurons; Optogenetic; Orexin; Sympathetic


© 2017 Both orexin neurons in the lateral hypothalamus and spinally-projecting pre-sympathetic neurons (PSNs) in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN) play an important role in the regulation of cardiovascular function under normal conditions and during cardiovascular challenges such as hypoxia and/or hypercapnia. We have previously established, using selective optogenetic excitation of orexin neurons and pathways, there is a heterogeneous neurotransmission from orexin neurons to PSNs in the PVN. This study was undertaken to test whether this pathway is altered by acute exposure to hypoxia alone and/or combined hypoxia and hypercapnia (H/H). To test this hypothesis, we selectively expressed channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) in orexin neurons in the lateral hypothalamus and photoactivated ChR2-expressing fibers to evoke postsynaptic currents in spinally-projecting PSNs in an in vitro slice preparation in rats. In accordance with previously published data, two subpopulations of spinally-projecting PSNs were established, including those with glutamatergic or GABAergic inputs from orexin neurons. Hypoxia alone did not alter the peak amplitude of either glutamatergic or GABAergic neurotransmission, however, H/H significantly inhibited both glutamatergic and GABAergic neurotransmission from orexin neurons to SPNs. In conclusion, H/H may modulate cardiovascular function by affecting heterogeneous pathways from orexin neurons to spinally-projecting PSNs in the PVN.

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