Long latency of evoked quantal transmitter release from somata of locus coeruleus neurons in rat pontine slices

H. P. Huang, S. R. Wang, W. Yao, C. Zhang, Y. Zhou, X. W. Chen, B. Zhang, W. Xiong, L. Y. Wang, L. H. Zheng, M. Landry, T. Hökfelt*, Z. Q.D. Xu, Z. Zhou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


The locus coeruleus (LC) harbors a compact group of noradrenergic cell bodies projecting to virtually all parts of the central nervous system. By using combined measurements of amperometry and patch-clamp, quantal vesicle release of noradrenaline (NA) was detected as amperometric spikes, after depolarization of the LC neurons. After a pulse depolarization, the average latency of amperometric spikes was 1,870 ms, whereas the latency of glutamate-mediated excitatory postsynaptic currents was 1.6 ms. A substantial fraction of the depolarization-induced amperometric spikes originated from the somata. In contrast to glutamate-mediated excitatory postsynaptic currents, NA secretion was strongly modulated by the action potential frequency (0.5-50 Hz). Somatodendritic NA release from LC upon enhanced cell activity produced autoinhibition of firing and of NA release. We conclude that, in contrast to classic synaptic transmission, quantal NA release from LC somata is characterized by a number of distinct properties, including long latency and high sensitivity to action potential frequency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1401-1406
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Amperometry
  • Brain slice
  • Catecholamine
  • Patch-clamp
  • Somatic release

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