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Inactivation Of Amino Acid Receptors In Medullary Reticular Formation Modulates And Suppresses Ingestion And Rejection Responses In The Awake Rat

Zhixiong Chen, Joseph B. Travers

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The lateral medullary reticular formation (RF) is the source of many preoromotor neurons and is essential for generation of ingestive consummatory responses. Although the neurochemistry mediating these responses is poorly understood, studies of fictive mastication suggest that both excitatory and inhibitory amino acid receptors play important roles in the generation of these ororhythmic behaviors. We tested the hypothesis that amino acid receptors modulate the expression of ingestion and rejection responses elicited by natural stimuli in awake rats. Licking responses were elicited by either intraoral (IO) gustatory stimuli or sucrose presented in a bottle. Oral rejection responses (gaping) were elicited by IO delivery of quinine hydrochloride. Bilateral microinjection of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist d-[(3)-2-carboxypiperazin-4-yl]-propyl-1-phosphonic acid (D-CPP) suppressed licking and gape responses recorded electromyographically from a subset of orolingual muscles. Likewise, infusion of the non-NMDA receptor antagonist 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (CNQX) significantly reduced licking and gape responses but was accompanied by spontaneous gasping responses. Rats still actively probed the bottle, indicating an intact appetitive response. Neither D-CPP nor CNQX differentially affected ingestion or rejection, suggesting that the switch from one behavior to the other does not simply rely on one glutamate receptor subtype. Nevertheless, a glutamate receptor-mediated switch from consummatory behavior to gasps after CNQX infusions suggests a multifunctional substrate for coordinating the jaw and tongue in different behaviors. Bilateral infusions of the GABAA receptor antagonist bicuculline or the glycine receptor antagonist strychnine enhanced the amplitude of IO stimulation-induced oral responses. These data suggest that the neural substrate underlying ingestive consummatory responses is under tonic inhibition. Release of this inhibition may be one mechanism by which aversive oral stimuli produce large-amplitude mouth openings associated with the rejection response.