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It is well established that neurons in the dorsal medulla, including the area postrema
and the medial nucleus tractus solitarius (mNTS), are involved in the central actions
of circulating peptides such as angiotensin II (ANG II) and arginine vasopressin (AVP).
This report describes a preparation that permits the identification and maintenance
of area postrema/mNTS neurons in culture in which the cellular and potentially subcellular
responses to neurotransmitters and neuropeptides on area postrema/mNTS cells can be
investigated. Following 15-21 days in culture, the effects of ANG II and AVP on changes
in intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) were examined. Both ANG II and AVP resulted
in a rapid and transient increase in [Ca2+]i reaching maximum in 15 s and returning
towards baseline values within 180 s. The ANG II-mediated increase in [Ca2+]i was
almost completely abolished by the selective angiotensin AT1 receptor subtype antagonist,
losartan (DuP 753). These results suggest that ANG II and AVP modulate area postrema/mNTS
neuronal activity by increasing intracellular Ca2+.