The effects of nicotinic and muscarinic receptor activation on patch-clamped cells in the optic tectum of RANA pipiens

C. J. Yu, E. A. Debski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Both nicotinic and muscarinic cholinergic receptors are present in the optic tectum. To begin to understand how the activation of these receptors affects visual activity patterns, we have determined the types of physiological responses induced by their activation. Using tectal brain slices from the leopard frog, we found that application of nicotine (100 μM) evoked long-lasting responses in 60% of patch-clamped tectal cells. Thirty percent of these responses consisted of an increase in spontaneous postsynaptic currents (sPSCs) and had both a glutamatergic and GABAergic component as determined by the use of 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (50 μM) and bicuculline (25 μM), respectively. Remaining response types consisted of an inward membrane current (16%) and an increase in sPSCs combined with an inward membrane current (14%). All responses could be elicited in the presence of tetrodotoxin (0.5 μM). Muscarinic receptor-mediated responses, induced by carbachol (100 μM) application after nicotinic receptor desensitization, produced responses in 70% of tectal cells. In contrast to responses elicited by nicotine, carbachol-induced responses could be evoked multiple times without significant decrement. Responses consisted of either an outward current (57%), a decrease in sPSCs (5%) or an increase in sPSCs, with (almost 6%) or without (almost 3%) an outward current. The response elicited by carbachol was not predicted by the response of the cell to nicotine. Our results suggest that nicotinic receptors are found predominantly at presynaptic locations in the optic tectum while muscarinic receptors are most often present at postsynaptic sites. We conclude that both of these receptor types could substantially modulate visual activity by changing either the input to tectal neurons or the level of their response to that input.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-144
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 25 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a grant from the National Eye Institute (EY11913).


  • Acetylcholine
  • Cholinergic
  • Frog
  • Retinotectal
  • Superior colliculus
  • Visual system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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