Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Vol.500, No.4, 897-901, 2018
The endogenous agonist, beta-alanine, activates glycine receptors in rat spinal dorsal neurons
beta-alanine is a structural analog of glycine and y-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and is thought to be involved in the modulation of nociceptive information at the spinal cord. However, it is not known whether (beta-alanine exerts its effect in substantia gelatinosa (SG) neurons of the spinal dorsal horn, where glycine and GABA play an important role in regulating nociceptive transmission from the periphery. Here, we investigated the effects of beta-alanine on inhibitory synaptic transmission in adult rat SG neurons using whole-cell patch-clamp. beta-alanine dose-dependently induced outward currents in SG neurons. Current-voltage plots revealed a reversal potential at approximately -70 mV, which was close to the equilibrium potential of Cl-. Pharmacological analysis revealed that beta-alanine activates glycine receptors, but not GABAa receptors. These results suggest that beta-alanine hyperpolanzes the membrane potential of SG neurons by activating Cl- channels through glycine receptors. Our findings raise the possibility that beta-alanine may modulate pain sensation through glycine receptors. (C) 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.