5-HT3 Receptors Mediate Serotonergic Fast Synaptic Excitation of Neocortical Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide/Cholecystokinin Interneurons
Neocortical neurons expressing the serotonin 5-HT3receptor (5-HT3R) were characterized in rat acute slices by using patch-clamp recordings combined with single-cell RT-PCR and histochemical labeling. The 5-HT3A receptor subunit was expressed selectively in a subset of GABAergic interneurons coexpressing cholecystokinin (CCK) and vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP). The 5-HT3B subunit was never detected, indicating that 5-HT3Rs expressed by neocortical interneurons did not contain this subunit. In 5-HT3A-expressing VIP/CCK interneurons, serotonin induced fast membrane potential depolarizations by activating an inward current that was blocked by the selective 5-HT3R antagonist tropisetron. Furthermore, we observed close appositions between serotonergic fibers and the dendrites and somata of 5-HT3R-expressing neurons, suggestive of possible synaptic contacts. Indeed, in interneurons exhibiting rapid excitation by serotonin, local electrical stimulations evoked fast EPSCs of large amplitude that were blocked by tropisetron. Finally, 5-HT3R-expressing neurons were also excited by a nicotinic agonist, indicating that serotonergic and cholinergic fast synaptic transmission could converge onto VIP/CCK interneurons. Our results establish a clear correlation between the presence of the 5-HT3A receptor subunit in neocortical VIP/CCK GABAergic interneurons, its functional expression, and its synaptic activation by serotonergic afferent fibers from the brainstem raphe nuclei.