A cholinergic synaptic input has been highlighted in recent years as an important modulator of motoneuron excitability. In the present study, it was examined whether, as in other regions, the cholinergic inputs on spinal motoneurons modulate the glutamatergic synaptic activity, evoked by electrical stimulation at the dorsolateral funiculus. The present results show that the pharmacological stimulation of muscarinic receptors produces a selective depression of AMPA-mediated glutamatergic activity in thoracic and lumbar spinal motoneurons. This effect does not involve a change in transmitter release and occurs both on synaptic currents and on AMPA responses evoked by photolysis of MNI-glutamate. Thus, it is concluded that muscarinic modulation occurs at the postsynaptic level. The results suggest that cholinergic inputs contacting motoneurons, which are known to increase motoneuron excitability, also directly interfere within coming synaptic inputs by changing their amplitudes.
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