Whole-cell recordings were performed to examine the morphological properties of electrophysiologically classified area postrema (AP) neurons in rat brain slices. Using electrophysiological criteria, AP neurons were subdivided into three groups: (1) cells displaying both the hyperpolarization- activated cation current (Ih) and the fast transient outward current (fast Ito); (2) cells displaying only the fast Ito; (3) cells displaying only the slow Ito. All AP neurons had a single axon that was distinctly thinner than the cells' dendrites. No systematic differences, across groups, in the orientation of dendrites or axons were identified. Mean values of cell size and capacitance of neurons from group 3 were significantly larger than those of the other groups. Interestingly, a number of cells from groups 1 and 3 but not group 2 were found to extend their dendrites into the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS), suggesting that AP neurons could receive vagal afferent inputs at their dendritic termini within the NTS. Although the AP has been implicated to contain uniformly shaped neurons, this study indicates the presence of significantly different subpopulations of AP neurons, which were characterized not only electrophysiologically but also morphologically.
- Area postrema
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