Distinct Firing Properties of Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide-Expressing Neurons in the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus

Tracey O. Hermanstyne, Carrie L. Simms, Yarimar Carrasquillo, Erik D. Herzog, Jeanne M. Nerbonne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) regulates daily rhythms in physiology and behavior. Previous studies suggest a critical role for neurons expressing vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) in coordinating rhythmicity and synchronization in the SCN. Here we examined the firing properties of VIP-expressing SCN neurons in acute brain slices. Active and passive membrane properties were measured in VIP and in non-VIP neurons during the day and at night. Current-clamp recordings revealed that both VIP and non-VIP neurons were spontaneously active, with higher firing rates during the day than at night. Average firing frequencies, however, were higher in VIP neurons (3.1 ± 0.2 Hz, day and 2.4 ± 0.2 Hz, night) than in non-VIP neurons (1.8 ± 0.2 Hz, day and 0.9 ± 0.2 Hz, night), both day and night. The waveforms of individual action potentials in VIP and non-VIP neurons were also distinct. Action potential durations (APD50) were shorter in VIP neurons (3.6 ± 0.1 ms, day and 2.9 ± 0.1 ms, night) than in non-VIP neurons (4.4 ± 0.3 ms, day and 3.5 ± 0.2 ms, night) throughout the light-dark cycle. In addition, afterhyperpolarization (AHP) amplitudes were larger in VIP neurons (21 ± 0.8 mV, day and 24.9 ± 0.9 mV, night) than in non-VIP neurons (17.2 ± 1.1 mV, day and 20.5 ± 1.2 mV, night) during the day and at night. Furthermore, significant day/night differences were observed in APD50 and AHP amplitudes in both VIP and non-VIP SCN neurons, consistent with rhythmic changes in ionic conductances that contribute to shaping the firing properties of both cell types. The higher day and night firing rates of VIP neurons likely contribute to synchronizing electrical activity in the SCN.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-67
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Rhythms
Volume31
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

Keywords

  • SCN
  • VIP neuropeptide
  • action potential waveforms
  • circadian rhythms
  • membrane excitability
  • rhythmic firing

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