Subfornical organ neurons integrate cardiovascular and metabolic signals
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The subfornical organ (SFO) is a critical circumventricular organ involved in the control of cardiovascular and metabolic homeostasis. Despite the abundant literature clearly demonstrating the ability of SFO neurons to sense and respond to a plethora of circulating signals that influence various physiological systems, investigation of how simultaneously sensed signals interact and are integrated in the SFO is lacking. In this study, we use patch clamp techniques to investigate how the traditionally classified ‘cardiovascular’ hormone angiotensin II (ANG), ‘metabolic’ hormone cholecystokinin (CCK) and ‘metabolic’ signal glucose interact and are integrated in the SFO. Sequential bath-application of CCK (10nM) and ANG (10nM) onto dissociated SFO neurons revealed that: 63% of responsive SFO neurons depolarized to both CCK & ANG; 25% depolarized to ANG only; and 12% hyperpolarized to CCK only. We next investigated the effects of glucose by incubating and recording neurons in either hypo-, normo- or hyperglycemic conditions for a minimum of 24 hours and comparing the proportions of responses to ANG (n=55) or CCK (n=83) application in each condition. A hyperglycemic environment was associated with a larger proportion of depolarizing responses to ANG (X2, p<0.05), and a smaller proportion of depolarizing responses along with a larger proportion of hyperpolarizing responses to CCK (X2, p<0.01). These data demonstrate that SFO neurons excited by CCK are also excited by ANG, suggesting that CCK may influence fluid intake or blood pressure via the SFO, complementary to the well-understood actions of ANG at this site. Additionally, the demonstration that glucose environment affects the responsiveness of neurons to both these hormones highlights the ability of SFO neurons to integrate multiple metabolic and cardiovascular signals to affect transmission of information from the circulation to the brain, which has important implications for this structure’s critical role regulation of autonomic function.