cAMP-dependent insulin modulation of synaptic inhibition in neurons of the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus is altered in diabetic mice

Camille B. Blake, Bret N. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Pathologies in which insulin is dysregulated, including diabetes, can disrupt central vagal circuitry, leading to gastrointestinal and other autonomic dysfunction. Insulin affects whole body metabolism through central mechanisms and is transported into the brain stem dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus (DMV) and nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS), which mediate parasym-pathetic visceral regulation. The NTS receives viscerosensory vagal input and projects heavily to the DMV, which supplies parasympa-thetic vagal motor output. Normally, insulin inhibits synaptic excitation of DMV neurons, with no effect on synaptic inhibition. Modulation of synaptic inhibition in DMV, however, is often sensitive to cAMP-dependent mechanisms. We hypothesized that an effect of insulin on GABAergic synaptic transmission may be uncovered by elevating resting cAMP levels in GABAergic terminals. We used whole cell patch-clamp recordings in brain stem slices from control and diabetic mice to identify insulin effects on inhibitory neurotrans-mission in the DMV in the presence of forskolin to elevate cAMP levels. In the presence of forskolin, insulin decreased the frequency of inhibitory postsynaptic currents (IPSCs) and the paired-pulse ratio of evoked IPSCs in DMV neurons from control mice. This effect was blocked by brefeldin-A, a Golgi-disrupting agent, or indinavir, a GLUT4 blocker, indicating that protein trafficking and glucose transport were involved. In streptozotocin-treated, diabetic mice, insulin did not affect IPSCs in DMV neurons in the presence of forskolin. Results suggest an impairment of cAMP-induced insulin effects on GABA release in the DMV, which likely involves disrupted protein trafficking in diabetic mice. These findings provide insight into mechanisms underlying vagal dysregulation associated with diabetes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R711-R720
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 15 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 the American Physiological Society.


  • Diabetes
  • GABA
  • Nucleus tractus solitarius
  • Patch-clamp
  • Vagus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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