Self-inhibition of olfactory bulb neurons


The GABA (γ-aminobutyric-acid)-containing periglomerular (PG) cells provide the first level of inhibition to mitral and tufted (M/T) cells, the output neurons of the olfactory bulb. We find that stimulation of PG cells of the rat olfactory bulb results in self-inhibition: release of GABA from an individual PG cell activates GABAA receptors on the same neuron. PG cells normally contain high concentrations of intracellular chloride and consequently are depolarized by GABA. Despite this, GABA inhibits PG cell firing by shunting excitatory signals. Finally, GABA released during self-inhibition may spill over to neighboring PG cells, resulting in a lateral spread of inhibition. Given the gatekeeping role of PG cells in the olfactory network, GABA-mediated self-inhibition will favor M/T cell excitation during intense sensory stimulation.

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Figure 1: Voltage steps evoke GABA receptor–mediated responses in PG cells.
Figure 2: Self-inhibition requires calcium influx and intracellular GABA.
Figure 3: The reversal potential for GABA-induced currents is depolarized from the resting potential.
Figure 4: GABA is depolarizing yet inhibitory.
Figure 5: PG cells show self-inhibition responses with physiological intracellular chloride.
Figure 6: GABA spillover in the olfactory bulb.


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The authors thank members of the Jahr lab for suggestions. This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, F32 NS11093 (T.C.S.) and NS21419 (C.E.J.).

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Correspondence to Craig E. Jahr.

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Smith, T., Jahr, C. Self-inhibition of olfactory bulb neurons. Nat Neurosci 5, 760–766 (2002).

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