The effects of glycine on non-dopaminergic cells in rat substantia nigra pars compacta and pars reticulata maintained in vitro were investigated using intracellular recording techniques. Glycine, superfused at a concentration between 30 microM and 1 mM, reversibly blocked the spontaneous firing of these neurons. The inhibition of firing discharge was associated with a hyperpolarization of the membrane (potassium acetate-filled electrodes) and an increase in conductance. Under voltage-clamp experiments (holding potential between -57 and -65 mV), glycine produced an outward response which reversed polarity at about -74 mV. However, when the recording electrodes were filled with KCl, the glycinergic response was mainly depolarizing/inward and reversed at about -43 mV. Thus, it appeared to be due to an increase in chloride permeability. Furthermore, the effects of glycine were reversibly antagonized by strychnine (between 300 nM and 1 microM). Our findings demonstrate that glycine is a potent inhibitory agent on non-dopaminergic cells of the substantia pars compacta and par reticulata that acts by activating strychnine-sensitive receptors.
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