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1.  Activation of Functional α7-Containing nAChRs in Hippocampal CA1 Pyramidal Neurons by Physiological Levels of Choline in the Presence of PNU-120596 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):e13964.
The level of expression of functional α7-containing nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons is believed to be very low compared to hippocampal CA1 interneurons, and for many years this expression was largely overlooked. However, high densities of expression of functional α7-containing nAChRs in CA1 pyramidal neurons may not be necessary for triggering important cellular and network functions, especially if activation of α7-containing nAChRs occurs in the presence of positive allosteric modulators such as PNU-120596.
Methodology/Principal Findings
An approach previously developed for α7-containing nAChRs expressed in tuberomammillary neurons was applied to investigate functional CA1 pyramidal α7-containing nAChRs using rat coronal hippocampal slices and patch-clamp electrophysiology. The majority (∼71%) of tested CA1 pyramidal neurons expressed low densities of functional α7-containing nAChRs as evidenced by small whole-cell responses to choline, a selective endogenous agonist of α7 nAChRs. These responses were potentiated by PNU-120596, a novel positive allosteric modulator of α7 nAChRs. The density of functional α7-containing nAChRs expressed in CA1 pyramidal neurons (and thus, the normalized net effect of activation, i.e., response net charge per unit of membrane capacitance per unit of time) was estimated to be ∼5% of the density observed in CA1 interneurons. The results of this study demonstrate that despite low levels of expression of functional pyramidal α7-containing nAChRs, physiological levels of choline (∼10 µM) are sufficient to activate these receptors and transiently depolarize and even excite CA1 pyramidal neurons in the presence of PNU-120596. The observed effects are possible because in the presence of 10 µM choline and 1–5 µM PNU-120596, a single opening of an individual pyramidal α7-containing nAChR ion channel appears to transiently depolarize (∼4 mV) the entire pyramidal neuron and occasionally trigger action potentials.
1) The majority of hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons express functional α7-containing nAChRs. In the absence of PNU-120596, a positive allosteric modulator of α7 nAChRs, a lack of responsiveness of some hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons to focal application of 0.5–1 mM choline does not imply a lack of expression of functional α7-containing nAChRs in these neurons. Rather, it may indicate a lack of detection of α7-containing nAChR-mediated currents by patch-clamp electrophysiology. 2) PNU-120596 can serve as a powerful tool for detection and enhancement of responsiveness of low densities of functional α7-containing nAChRs such as those present in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons. 3) In the presence of PNU-120596, physiological concentrations of choline activate functional CA1 pyramidal α7-containing nAChRs and produce step-like currents that cause repetitive step-like depolarizations, occasionally triggering bursts of action potentials in CA1 pyramidal neurons. Therefore, the results of this study suggest that in the presence of PNU-120596 and possibly other positive allosteric modulators, endogenous choline may persistently activate CA1 pyramidal α7-containing nAChRs, enhance the excitability of CA1 pyramidal neurons and thus act as a potent therapeutic agent with potential neuroprotective and cognition-enhancing properties.
PMCID: PMC2980465  PMID: 21103043
2.  Activation of P2Y1 Nucleotide Receptors Induces Inhibition of the M-Type K+ Current in Rat Hippocampal Pyramidal Neurons 
We have shown previously that stimulation of heterologously expressed P2Y1 nucleotide receptors inhibits M-type K+ currents in sympathetic neurons. We now report that activation of endogenous P2Y1 receptors induces inhibition of the M-current in rat CA1/CA3 hippocampal pyramidal cells in primary neuron cultures. The P2Y1 agonist adenosine 5′-[β-thio]diphosphate trilithium salt (ADPβS) inhibited M-current by up to 52% with an IC50 of 84 nM. The hydrolyzable agonist ADP (10 μM) produced 32% inhibition, whereas the metabotropic glutamate receptor 1/5 agonist DHPG [(S)-3,5-dihydroxyphenylglycine] (10 μM) inhibited M-current by 44%. The M-channel blocker XE991 [10,10-bis(4-pyridinylmethyl)-9(10H)-anthracenone dihydrochloride] produced 73% inhibition at 3 μM; neither ADPβS nor ADP produced additional inhibition in the presence of XE991. The effect of ADPβS was prevented by a specific P2Y1 antagonist, MRS 2179 (2′-deoxy-N′-methyladenosine-3′,5′-bisphosphate tetra-ammonium salt) (30 μM). Inhibition of the M-current by ADPβS was accompanied by increased neuronal firing in response to injected current pulses. The neurons responding to ADPβS were judged to be pyramidal cells on the basis of (1) morphology, (2) firing characteristics, and (3) their distinctive staining for the pyramidal cell marker neurogranin. Strong immunostaining for P2Y1 receptors was shown in most cells in these cultures: 74% of the cells were positive for both P2Y1 and neurogranin, whereas 16% were only P2Y1 positive. These results show the presence of functional M-current-inhibitory P2Y1 receptors on hippocampal pyramidal neurons, as predicted from their effects when expressed in sympathetic neurons. However, the mechanism of inhibition in the two cell types seems to differ because, unlike nucleotide-mediated M-current inhibition in sympathetic neurons, that in hippocampal neurons did not appear to result from raised intracellular calcium
PMCID: PMC1855006  PMID: 16957090
nucleotide receptors; P2Y receptors; hippocampus; pyramidal neurons; potassium channels; M-current
3.  Activation of CRH receptor type 1 expressed on glutamatergic neurons increases excitability of CA1 pyramidal neurons by the modulation of voltage-gated ion channels 
Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) plays an important role in a substantial number of patients with stress-related mental disorders, such as anxiety disorders and depression. CRH has been shown to increase neuronal excitability in the hippocampus, but the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. The effects of CRH on neuronal excitability were investigated in acute hippocampal brain slices. Population spikes (PS) and field excitatory postsynaptic potentials (fEPSP) were evoked by stimulating Schaffer-collaterals and recorded simultaneously from the somatic and dendritic region of CA1 pyramidal neurons. CRH was found to increase PS amplitudes (mean ± Standard error of the mean; 231.8 ± 31.2% of control; n = 10) while neither affecting fEPSPs (104.3 ± 4.2%; n = 10) nor long-term potentiation (LTP). However, when Schaffer-collaterals were excited via action potentials (APs) generated by stimulation of CA3 pyramidal neurons, CRH increased fEPSP amplitudes (119.8 ± 3.6%; n = 8) and the magnitude of LTP in the CA1 region. Experiments in slices from transgenic mice revealed that the effect on PS amplitude is mediated exclusively by CRH receptor 1 (CRHR1) expressed on glutamatergic neurons. The effects of CRH on PS were dependent on phosphatase-2B, L- and T-type calcium channels and voltage-gated potassium channels but independent on intracellular Ca2+-elevation. In patch-clamp experiments, CRH increased the frequency and decay times of APs and decreased currents through A-type and delayed-rectifier potassium channels. These results suggest that CRH does not affect synaptic transmission per se, but modulates voltage-gated ion currents important for the generation of APs and hence elevates by this route overall neuronal activity.
PMCID: PMC3715697  PMID: 23882180
CRH; CRH receptor; neuronal excitability; potassium channels; protein kinases
4.  Pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) inhibits the slow afterhyperpolarizing current sIAHP in CA1 pyramidal neurons by activating multiple signaling pathways 
Hippocampus  2013;24(1):32-43.
The slow afterhyperpolarizing current (sIAHP) is a calcium-dependent potassium current that underlies the late phase of spike frequency adaptation in hippocampal and neocortical neurons. sIAHP is a well-known target of modulation by several neurotransmitters acting via the cyclic AMP (cAMP) and protein kinase A (PKA)-dependent pathway. The neuropeptide pituitary adenylate cyclase activating peptide (PACAP) and its receptors are present in the hippocampal formation. In this study we have investigated the effect of PACAP on the sIAHP and the signal transduction pathway used to modulate intrinsic excitability of hippocampal pyramidal neurons. We show that PACAP inhibits the sIAHP, resulting in a decrease of spike frequency adaptation, in rat CA1 pyramidal cells. The suppression of sIAHP by PACAP is mediated by PAC1 and VPAC1 receptors. Inhibition of PKA reduced the effect of PACAP on sIAHP, suggesting that PACAP exerts part of its inhibitory effect on sIAHP by increasing cAMP and activating PKA. The suppression of sIAHP by PACAP was also strongly hindered by the inhibition of p38 MAP kinase (p38 MAPK). Concomitant inhibition of PKA and p38 MAPK indicates that these two kinases act in a sequential manner in the same pathway leading to the suppression of sIAHP. Conversely, protein kinase C is not part of the signal transduction pathway used by PACAP to inhibit sIAHP in CA1 neurons. Our results show that PACAP enhances the excitability of CA1 pyramidal neurons by inhibiting the sIAHP through the activation of multiple signaling pathways, most prominently cAMP/PKA and p38 MAPK. Our findings disclose a novel modulatory action of p38 MAPK on intrinsic excitability and the sIAHP, underscoring the role of this current as a neuromodulatory hub regulated by multiple protein kinases in cortical neurons. © 2013 The Authors. Hippocampus Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
PMCID: PMC3920641  PMID: 23996525
hippocampus; slow afterhyperpolarization; neuropeptide; protein kinase A; p38 MAP kinase
5.  The orthosteric agonist 2-chloro-5-hydroxyphenylglycine activates mGluR5 and mGluR1 with similar efficacy and potency 
BMC Pharmacology  2012;12:6.
The efficacy, potency, and selectivity of the compound 2-Chloro-5-hydroxyphenylglycine (CHPG), a nominally selective agonist for metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGluR5), were examined with select mGluRs by examining their ability to induce modulation of the native voltage dependent ion channels in isolated sympathetic neurons from the rat superior cervical ganglion (SCG). SCG neurons offer a null mGluR-background in which specific mGluR subtypes can be made to express via intranuclear cDNA injection.
Consistent with previous reports, CHPG strongly activated mGluR5b expressed in SCG neurons with an apparent EC50 around 60 μM. Surprisingly, CHPG also activated two mGluR1 splice variants with a similar potency as at mGluR5 when calcium current inhibition was used as an assay for receptor function. No effect of 1 mM CHPG was seen in cells expressing mGluR2 or mGluR4, suggesting that CHPG only activates group I mGluRs (mGluR1 and 5). CHPG was also able to induce modulation of M-type potassium current through mGluR1, but not as consistently as glutamate. Since this channel is modulated through a Gq-dependent pathway, these data indicate that CHPG may exhibit some biased agonist properties on mGluR1. Closer examination of the voltage-independent, Gq-mediated component of mGluR-induced calcium current modulation data confirmed that some biased agonism was evident, but the effect was weak and inconsistent.
These data contrast with the established literature which suggests that CHPG is a selective mGluR5 agonist. Instead, CHPG appears to act equally well as an agonist at mGluR1. While some weak biased agonism was observed with CHPG acting on mGluR1, but not mGluR5, favoring Gi/o signaling over Gq/11, this effect does not appear sufficient to fully explain the discrepancies in the literature.
PMCID: PMC3416681  PMID: 22642439
6.  Homeostatic Control of Synaptic Activity by Endogenous Adenosine is Mediated by Adenosine Kinase 
Cerebral Cortex (New York, NY)  2012;24(1):67-80.
Extracellular adenosine, a key regulator of neuronal excitability, is metabolized by astrocyte-based enzyme adenosine kinase (ADK). We hypothesized that ADK might be an upstream regulator of adenosine-based homeostatic brain functions by simultaneously affecting several downstream pathways. We therefore studied the relationship between ADK expression, levels of extracellular adenosine, synaptic transmission, intrinsic excitability, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)-dependent synaptic actions in transgenic mice underexpressing or overexpressing ADK. We demonstrate that ADK: 1) Critically influences the basal tone of adenosine, evaluated by microelectrode adenosine biosensors, and its release following stimulation; 2) determines the degree of tonic adenosine-dependent synaptic inhibition, which correlates with differential plasticity at hippocampal synapses with low release probability; 3) modulates the age-dependent effects of BDNF on hippocampal synaptic transmission, an action dependent upon co-activation of adenosine A2A receptors; and 4) influences GABAA receptor-mediated currents in CA3 pyramidal neurons. We conclude that ADK provides important upstream regulation of adenosine-based homeostatic function of the brain and that this mechanism is necessary and permissive to synaptic actions of adenosine acting on multiple pathways. These mechanistic studies support previous therapeutic studies and implicate ADK as a promising therapeutic target for upstream control of multiple neuronal signaling pathways crucial for a variety of neurological disorders.
PMCID: PMC3862265  PMID: 22997174
adenosine; brain-derived neurotrophic factor; GABA; homeostasis; transgenic mice
7.  Electrophysiological Effects of SKF83959 on Hippocampal CA1 Pyramidal Neurons: Potential Mechanisms for the Drug's Neuroprotective Effects 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e13118.
Although the potent anti-parkinsonian action of the atypical D1-like receptor agonist SKF83959 has been attributed to the selective activation of phosphoinositol(PI)-linked D1 receptor, whereas the mechanism underlying its potent neuroprotective effect is not fully understood. In the present study, the actions of SKF83959 on neuronal membrane potential and neuronal excitability were investigated in CA1 pyramidal neurons of rat hippocampal slices. SKF83959 (10–100 µM) caused a concentration-dependent depolarization, associated with a reduction of input resistance in CA1 pyramidal neurons. The depolarization was blocked neither by antagonists for D1, D2, 5-HT2A/2C receptors and α1-adrenoceptor, nor by intracellular dialysis of GDP-β-S. However, the specific HCN channel blocker ZD7288 (10 µM) antagonized both the depolarization and reduction of input resistance caused by SKF83959. In voltage-clamp experiments, SKF83959 (10–100 µM) caused a concentration-dependent increase of Ih current in CA1 pyramidal neurons, which was independent of D1 receptor activation. Moreover, SKF83959 (50 µM) caused a 6 mV positive shift in the activation curve of Ih and significantly accelerated the activation of Ih current. In addition, SKF83959 also reduced the neuronal excitability of CA1 pyramidal neurons, which was manifested by the decrease in the number and amplitude of action potentials evoked by depolarizing currents, and by the increase of firing threshold and rhoebase current. The above results suggest that SKF83959 increased Ih current through a D1 receptor-independent mechanism, which led to the depolarization of hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons. These findings provide a novel mechanism for the drug's neuroprotective effects, which may contributes to its therapeutic benefits in Parkinson's disease.
PMCID: PMC2948503  PMID: 20957037
8.  A Model of NMDA Receptor-Mediated Activity in Dendrites of Hippocampal CA1 Pyramidal Neurons 
Journal of neurophysiology  1992;68(6):2248-2259.
The role of synaptic activation of NMDA (N-methyl-d-aspartate) receptor-mediated conductances on CA1 hippocampal pyramidal cells in short-term excitability changes was studied with the use of a computational model. Model parameters were based on experimental recordings from dendrites and somata and previous hippocampal simulations. Representation of CA1 neurons included NMDA and non-NMDA excitatory dendritic synapses, dendritic and somatic inhibition, five intrinsic membrane conductances, and provision for activity-dependent intracellular and extracellular ion concentration changes.The model simulated somatic and dendritic potentials recorded experimentally. The characteristic CA1 spike afterdepolarization was a consequence of the longitudinal spread of dendritic charge, reactivation of slow Ca2+-dependent K+ conductances, slow synaptic processes (NMDA-dependent depolarizing and γ-aminobutyric acid–mediated hyperpolarizing currents) and was sensitive to extracellular potassium accumulation. Calcium currents were found to be less important in generating the spike afterdepolarization.Repetitive activity was influenced by the cumulative activation of the NMDA-mediated synaptic conductances, the frequency-dependent depression of inhibitory synaptic responses, and a shift in the potassium reversal potential. NMDA receptor activation produced a transient potentiation of the excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP). The frequency dependence of EPSP potentiation was similar to the experimental data, reaching a maximal value near 10 Hz.Although the present model did not have compartments for dendritic spines, Ca2+ accumulation was simulated in a restricted space near the intracellular surface of the dendritic membrane. The simulations demonstrated that the Ca2+ component of the NMDA-operated synaptic current can be a significant factor in increasing the Ca2+ concentration at submembrane regions, even in the absence of Ca2+ spikes.Elevation of the extracellular K+ concentration enhanced the dendritic synaptic response during repetitive activity and led to an increase in intracellular Ca2+ levels. This increase in dendritic excitability was partly mediated by NMDA receptor-mediated conductances.Blockade of Ca2+-sensitive K+ conductances in the dendrites increased the size of EPSPs leading to a facilitation of dendritic and somatic spike activity and increased [Ca2+]i. NMDA receptor-mediated conductances appeared as an amplifying component in this mechanism, activated by the relatively depolarized membrane potential.The results suggest that dendritic NMDA receptors, by virtue of their voltage-dependency, can interact with a number of voltage-sensitive conductances to increase the dendritic excitatory response during periods of repetitive synaptic activation. These findings support experimental results that implicate NMDA receptor-mediated conductances in the short-term response plasticity of the CA1 hippocampal pyramidal neuron.
PMCID: PMC2605954  PMID: 1337105
9.  Activation of 5‐HT2A receptors by TCB‐2 induces recurrent oscillatory burst discharge in layer 5 pyramidal neurons of the mPFC in vitro 
Physiological Reports  2014;2(5):e12003.
The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) is a region of neocortex that plays an integral role in several cognitive processes which are abnormal in schizophrenic patients. As with other cortical regions, large‐bodied layer 5 pyramidal neurons serve as the principle subcortical output of microcircuits of the mPFC. The coexpression of both inhibitory serotonin 5‐HT1A receptors on the axon initial segments, and excitatory 5‐HT2A receptors throughout the somatodendritic compartments, by layer 5 pyramidal neurons allows serotonin to provide potent top–down regulation of input–output relationships within cortical microcircuits. Application of 5‐HT2A agonists has previously been shown to enhance synaptic input to layer 5 pyramidal neurons, as well as increase the gain in neuronal firing rate in response to increasing depolarizing current steps. Using whole‐cell patch‐clamp recordings obtained from layer 5 pyramidal neurons of the mPFC of C57/bl6 mice, the aim of our present study was to investigate the modulation of long‐term spike trains by the selective 5‐HT2A agonist TCB‐2. We found that in the presence of synaptic blockers, TCB‐2 induced recurrent oscillatory bursting (ROB) after 15–20 sec of tonic spiking in 7 of the 14 cells. In those seven cells, ROB discharge was accurately predicted by the presence of a voltage sag in response to a hyperpolarizing current injection. This effect was reversed by 5–10 min of drug washout and ROB discharge was inhibited by both synaptic activity and coapplication of the 5‐HT2A/2C antagonist ketanserin. While the full implications of this work are not yet understood, it may provide important insight into serotonergic modulation of cortical networks.
Using whole‐cell patch‐clamp recordings obtained from layer 5 pyramidal neurons of the mouse mPFC, we investigated the modulation of long‐term spike trains by the selective 5‐HT2A agonist TCB‐2. In the presence of synaptic blockers, TCB‐2 induced recurrent oscillatory bursting (ROB) after 15–20 sec of tonic spiking in 7 of the 14 cells; ROB discharge was accurately predicted by the presence of a voltage sag in response to a hyperpolarizing current injection. We have identified a novel modulation of pyramidal neuron excitability by a 5HT receptor known to contribute to the pathophysiology of schizophrenia.
PMCID: PMC4098732  PMID: 24844635
5‐HT2A; layer 5 pyramidal neuron; mPFC; serotonin; TCB‐2
10.  RGS7/Gβ5/R7BP complex regulates synaptic plasticity and memory by modulating hippocampal GABABR-GIRK signaling 
eLife  2014;3:e02053.
In the hippocampus, the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA shapes the activity of the output pyramidal neurons and plays important role in cognition. Most of its inhibitory effects are mediated by signaling from GABAB receptor to the G protein-gated Inwardly-rectifying K+ (GIRK) channels. Here, we show that RGS7, in cooperation with its binding partner R7BP, regulates GABABR-GIRK signaling in hippocampal pyramidal neurons. Deletion of RGS7 in mice dramatically sensitizes GIRK responses to GABAB receptor stimulation and markedly slows channel deactivation kinetics. Enhanced activity of this signaling pathway leads to decreased neuronal excitability and selective disruption of inhibitory forms of synaptic plasticity. As a result, mice lacking RGS7 exhibit deficits in learning and memory. We further report that RGS7 is selectively modulated by its membrane anchoring subunit R7BP, which sets the dynamic range of GIRK responses. Together, these results demonstrate a novel role of RGS7 in hippocampal synaptic plasticity and memory formation.
eLife digest
Neurons communicate with one another at junctions called synapses. The arrival of an electrical signal known as an action potential at the first cell causes molecules known as neurotransmitters to be released into the synapse. These molecules diffuse across the gap between the neurons and bind to receptors on the receiving cell. Some neurotransmitters, such as glutamate, activate cells when they bind to receptors, thus making it easier for the second neuron to ‘fire’ (i.e., to generate an action potential). By contrast, other neurotransmitters, such as GABA, usually make it harder for the second neuron to fire.
Many of the effects of GABA involve a type of receptor called GABAB. When GABA binds to one of these receptors, a molecule called a G-protein is recruited to the receptor. This activates the G-protein, triggering a cascade of events inside the cell that lead ultimately to the opening of potassium ion channels, which as known as GIRKs, in the cell membrane. Positively charged potassium ions then leave the cell through these channels, and this makes it more difficult for the cell to fire.
Now, Ostrovskaya et al. have revealed that a complex of three proteins regulates the interaction between GABAB receptors and GIRK channels. In neurons that lack either of these proteins, the receptors have less influence on GIRKs than in normal cells. Moreover, mice that lack one of the proteins (called RGS7) perform less well in various learning and memory tests: for example, they take longer than normal animals to learn the location of an escape platform in a water maze, or to retain a memory of a fearful event.
By identifying the proteins that regulate the interaction between GABAB receptors and GIRKs, Ostrovskaya et al. have helped to unravel a key signaling cascade relevant to cognition. Given that GIRK channels have recently been implicated in Down’s syndrome, these insights may also increase understanding of cognitive impairments in neuropsychiatric disorders.
PMCID: PMC3988575  PMID: 24755289
GPCR signaling; RGS proteins; synaptic plasticity; learning and memory; hippocampus; GIRK channels; mouse
11.  Endocannabinoids Differentially Modulate Synaptic Plasticity in Rat Hippocampal CA1 Pyramidal Neurons 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(4):e10306.
Hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons receive two excitatory glutamatergic synaptic inputs: their most distal dendritic regions in the stratum lacunosum-moleculare (SLM) are innervated by the perforant path (PP), originating from layer III of the entorhinal cortex, while their more proximal regions of the apical dendrites in the stratum radiatum (SR) are innervated by the Schaffer-collaterals (SC), originating from hippocampal CA3 neurons. Endocannabinoids (eCBs) are naturally occurring mediators capable of modulating both GABAergic and glutamatergic synaptic transmission and plasticity via the CB1 receptor. Previous work on eCB modulation of excitatory synapses in the CA1 region largely focuses on the SC pathway. However, little information is available on whether and how eCBs modulate glutamatergic synaptic transmission and plasticity at PP synapses.
Methodology/Principal Findings
By employing somatic and dendritic patch-clamp recordings, Ca2+ uncaging, and immunostaining, we demonstrate that there are significant differences in low-frequency stimulation (LFS)- or DHPG-, an agonist of group I metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs), induced long-term depression (LTD) of excitatory synaptic transmission between SC and PP synapses in the same pyramidal neurons. These differences are eliminated by pharmacological inhibition with selective CB1 receptor antagonists or genetic deletion of the CB1 receptor, indicating that these differences likely result from differential modulation via a CB1 receptor-dependent mechanism. We also revealed that depolarization-induced suppression of excitation (DSE), a form of short-term synaptic plasticity, and photolysis of caged Ca2+-induced suppression of Excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) were less at the PP than that at the SC. In addition, application of WIN55212 (WIN) induced a more pronounced inhibition of EPSCs at the SC when compared to that at the PP.
Our results suggest that CB1 dependent LTD and DSE are differentially expressed at the PP versus SC synapses in the same neurons, which may have an impact on synaptic scaling, integration and plasticity of hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons.
PMCID: PMC2858667  PMID: 20421986
12.  SK2 Channels Regulate Alcohol-Associated Plasticity of Glutamatergic Synapses 
Biological psychiatry  2010;69(7):625-632.
SK2 potassium channels control excitability and contribute to plasticity by reducing excitatory postsynaptic potentials. Recent evidence suggests that SK2 channels form a calcium-dependent negative-feedback loop with synaptic NMDA receptors. Addiction to alcohol and other drugs of abuse induces plastic changes in glutamatergic synapses that include the targeting of NMDA receptors to synaptic sites; however, the role of SK2 channels in alcohol-associated homeostatic plasticity is unknown.
Electrophysiology, Western blot, and behavioral analyses were used to quantify changes in hippocampal SK channel function and expression using well-characterized in-vitro and in-vivo models of chronic alcohol exposure.
Chronic ethanol reduced apamin-sensitive SK currents in CA1 pyramidal neurons that were associated with a down-regulation of surface SK2 channels. Blocking SK channels with apamin potentiated excitatory post-synaptic potentials in control but not ethanol treated CA1 pyramidal neurons, suggesting that chronic ethanol disrupts the SK channel-NMDA receptor feedback loop. Alcohol reduced expression of SK2 channels and increased expression of NMDA receptors at synaptic sites in a mouse model. Positive modulation of SK function by 1-EBIO decreased alcohol withdrawal hyperexcitability and attenuated ethanol withdrawal neurotoxicity in hippocampus. 1-EBIO also reduced seizure activity in mice undergoing withdrawal.
These results provide evidence that SK2 channels contribute to alcohol-associated adaptive plasticity of glutamatergic synapses and that positive modulation of SK channels reduces the severity of withdrawal-related hyperexcitability. Therefore, SK2 channels appear to be critical regulators of alcohol-associated plasticity and may be novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of addiction.
PMCID: PMC3103782  PMID: 21056409
SK2; adaptive plasticity; alcoholism; glutamatergic synapses; withdrawal hyperexcitability; 1-EBIO
13.  Regulating hippocampal hyperexcitability through GABAB Receptors 
Physiological Reports  2014;2(4):e00278.
Disturbances of GABAergic inhibition are a major cause of epileptic seizures. GABA exerts its actions via ionotropic GABAA receptors and metabotropic G protein‐coupled GABAB receptors. Malfunction of GABAA inhibition has long been recognized in seizure genesis but the role of GABAB receptors in controlling seizure activity is still not well understood. Here, we examined the anticonvulsive, or inhibitory effects, of GABAB receptors in a mouse model of hippocampal kindling as well as mouse hippocampal slices through the use of GS 39783, a positive allosteric GABAB receptor modulator, and CGP 55845, a selective GABAB receptor antagonist. When administered via intraperitoneal injections in kindled mice, GS 39783 (5 mg/kg) did not attenuate hippocampal EEG discharges, but did reduce aberrant hippocampal spikes, whereas CGP 55845 (10 mg/kg) prolonged hippocampal discharges and increased spike incidences. When examined in hippocampal slices, neither GS 39783 at 5 μmol/L nor the GABAB receptor agonist baclofen at 0.1 μmol/L alone significantly altered repetitive excitatory field potentials, but GS 39783 and baclofen together reversibly abolished these field potentials. In contrast, CGP 55845 at 1 μmol/L facilitated induction and incidence of these field potentials. In addition, CGP 55845 attenuated the paired pulse depression of CA3 population spikes and increased the frequency of EPSCs in individual CA3 pyramidal neurons. Collectively, these data suggest that GABABB receptors regulate hippocampal hyperexcitability by inhibiting CA3 glutamatergic synapses. We postulate that positive allosteric modulation of GABAB receptors may be effective in reducing seizure‐related hyperexcitability.
GABAB positive modulator GS 39783 attenuated, whereas GABAB antagonist CGP55845 facilitated hippocampal EEG spikes in kindled mice and excitatory field potentials in hippocampal slices. We postulate that GABAB receptors may inhibit CA3 glutamate synapses and hence regulate hippocampal hyperexcitability.
PMCID: PMC4001873  PMID: 24771688
Allosteric; EEG; epilepsy; hippocampus; kindling; mice; seizure; slices
14.  Behavioral Characterization of Mice Lacking the A3 Adenosine Receptor: Sensitivity to Hypoxic Neurodegeneration 
1. The potential neuroprotective actions of the A3 adenosine receptor (A3AR) were investigated using mice with functional deletions of the A3AR (A3AR−/−) in behavioral assessments of analgesia, locomotion, tests predictive of depression and anxiety, and the effects of mild hypoxia on cognition and neuronal survival.
2. Untreated A3AR−/− mice were tested in standard behavioral paradigms, including activity in the open field, performance in the hot-plate, tail-flick, tail-suspension, and swim tests, and in the elevated plus maze. In addition, mice were exposed repeatedly to a hypoxic environment containing carbon monoxide (CO). The cognitive effects of this treatment were assessed using the contextual fear conditioning test. After testing, the density of pyramidal neurons in the CA1, 2, and 3 subfields of the hippocampus was determined using standard histological and morphometric techniques.
3. A3AR−/− mice showed increased locomotion in the open field test, elevated plus maze (number of arm entries) and light/dark box (number of transitions). However, they spent more time immobile in two different tests of antidepressant activity (Swim and tail suspension tests). A3AR−/− mice also showed evidence of decreased nociception in the hot-plate, but not tail-flick tests. Further, A3AR−/− mice were more vulnerable to hippocampal pyramidal neuron damage following episodes of carbon monoxide (CO)-induced hypoxia. One week after exposure to CO a moderate loss of pyramidal neurons was observed in all hippocampal subfields of both wild-type (A3AR+/+) and A3AR−/− mice. However, the extent of neuronal death in the CA2–3 subfields was less pronounced in A3AR+/+ than A3AR−/− mice. This neuronal loss was accompanied by a decline in cognitive function as determined using contextual fear conditioning. These histological and cognitive changes were reproduced in wild-type mice by repeatedly administering the A3AR-selective antagonist MRS 1523 (5-propyl-2-ethyl-4-propyl-3-(ethylsulfanylcarbonyl)-6-phenylpyridine-5-carboxylate 1 mg/kg i.p.).
4. These results indicate that pharmacologic or genetic suppression of A3AR function enhances some aspects of motor function and suppresses pain processing at supraspinal levels, while acting as a depressant in tests predictive of antidepressant action. Consistent with previous reports of the neuroprotective actions of A3AR agonists, A3AR−/− mice show an increase in neurodegeneration in response to repeated episodes of hypoxia.
PMCID: PMC3145360  PMID: 12825837
Adenosine receptor; neurodegeneration; knockout mice; analgesia; depression
15.  Cav1.3 channels control D2-autoreceptor responses via NCS-1 in substantia nigra dopamine neurons 
Brain  2014;137(8):2287-2302.
See Borgkvist et al. (doi:10.1093/brain/awu150) for a scientific commentary on this article.
D2 autoreceptors and L-type calcium channels are both implicated in Parkinson’s disease, but how they interact is unclear. Dragicevic et al. reveal that L-type calcium channels can modulate D2-autoreceptor responses via the neuronal calcium sensor NCS-1. This dopamine-dependent signalling network is altered in Parkinson’s disease and could represent a therapeutic target.
Dopamine midbrain neurons within the substantia nigra are particularly prone to degeneration in Parkinson’s disease. Their selective loss causes the major motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, but the causes for the high vulnerability of SN DA neurons, compared to neighbouring, more resistant ventral tegmental area dopamine neurons, are still unclear. Consequently, there is still no cure available for Parkinson’s disease. Current therapies compensate the progressive loss of dopamine by administering its precursor l-DOPA and/or dopamine D2-receptor agonists. D2-autoreceptors and Cav1.3-containing L-type Ca2+ channels both contribute to Parkinson’s disease pathology. L-type Ca2+ channel blockers protect SN DA neurons from degeneration in Parkinson’s disease and its mouse models, and they are in clinical trials for neuroprotective Parkinson’s disease therapy. However, their physiological functions in SN DA neurons remain unclear. D2-autoreceptors tune firing rates and dopamine release of SN DA neurons in a negative feedback loop through activation of G-protein coupled potassium channels (GIRK2, or KCNJ6). Mature SN DA neurons display prominent, non-desensitizing somatodendritic D2-autoreceptor responses that show pronounced desensitization in PARK-gene Parkinson’s disease mouse models. We analysed surviving human SN DA neurons from patients with Parkinson’s disease and from controls, and detected elevated messenger RNA levels of D2-autoreceptors and GIRK2 in Parkinson’s disease. By electrophysiological analysis of postnatal juvenile and adult mouse SN DA neurons in in vitro brain-slices, we observed that D2-autoreceptor desensitization is reduced with postnatal maturation. Furthermore, a transient high-dopamine state in vivo, caused by one injection of either l-DOPA or cocaine, induced adult-like, non-desensitizing D2-autoreceptor responses, selectively in juvenile SN DA neurons, but not ventral tegmental area dopamine neurons. With pharmacological and genetic tools, we identified that the expression of this sensitized D2-autoreceptor phenotype required Cav1.3 L-type Ca2+ channel activity, internal Ca2+, and the interaction of the neuronal calcium sensor NCS-1 with D2-autoreceptors. Thus, we identified a first physiological function of Cav1.3 L-type Ca2+ channels in SN DA neurons for homeostatic modulation of their D2-autoreceptor responses. L-type Ca2+ channel activity however, was not important for pacemaker activity of mouse SN DA neurons. Furthermore, we detected elevated substantia nigra dopamine messenger RNA levels of NCS-1 (but not Cav1.2 or Cav1.3) after cocaine in mice, as well as in remaining human SN DA neurons in Parkinson’s disease. Thus, our findings provide a novel homeostatic functional link in SN DA neurons between Cav1.3- L-type-Ca2+ channels and D2-autoreceptor activity, controlled by NCS-1, and indicate that this adaptive signalling network (Cav1.3/NCS-1/D2/GIRK2) is also active in human SN DA neurons, and contributes to Parkinson’s disease pathology. As it is accessible to pharmacological modulation, it provides a novel promising target for tuning substantia nigra dopamine neuron activity, and their vulnerability to degeneration.
PMCID: PMC4107734  PMID: 24934288
D2-autoreceptor; isradipine; Parkinsons disease; l-DOPA; cocaine
16.  P2Y1 receptor modulation of Ca2+-activated K+ currents in medium-sized neurons from neonatal rat striatal slices 
Journal of Neurophysiology  2011;107(3):1009-1021.
ATP signaling to neurons and glia in the nervous system occurs via activation of both P2Y and P2X receptors. Here, we investigated the effects of P2Y1 receptor stimulation in developing striatal medium-sized neurons using patch-clamp recordings from acute brain slices of 7- and 28-day-old rats. Application of the selective P2Y1 receptor agonist 2-(Methylthio) ADP trisodium salt (2-MeSADP; 250 nM) increased outward K+ currents evoked by a ramp depolarization protocol in voltage-clamp recordings. This effect was observed in 59 out of 82 cells (72%) and was blocked completely by the P2Y1 antagonist, 2′-deoxy-N6-methyl adenosine 3′,5′-diphosphate. The averaged 2-MeSADP-sensitive conductance was fitted by the sum of a linear conductance and a Boltzmann relation, giving one-half activation voltage of −14.2 mV and an equivalent charge of 2.91. The 2MeSADP-mediated effect was sensitive to submillimolar concentrations of tetraethylammonium (TEA; 200 μM), to 200 nM iberiotoxin and to 100 nM apamin, suggesting the involvement of both big and small potassium (BK and SK, respectively) calcium-activated channels. In current-clamp experiments, 2-MeSADP decreased depolarization-evoked action potential (AP) firing in all 26 cells investigated, and this effect was reversed by TEA and by apamin but not by iberiotoxin. We conclude that the stimulation of P2Y1 receptors in developing striatal neurons leads to activation of calcium-activated potassium channels [IK(Ca)] of both BK and SK subtypes, the latter responsible for decreasing the frequency of AP firing in response to current injection. Therefore, P2Y1 signaling leading to activation of IK(Ca) may be important in regulating the activity of medium-sized neurons in the striatum.
PMCID: PMC3289470  PMID: 22131374
ATP; medium-spiny neuron; striatum; potassium channel
17.  Calcium-Independent Inhibitory G-Protein Signaling Induces Persistent Presynaptic Muting of Hippocampal Synapses 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2011;31(3):979-991.
Adaptive forms of synaptic plasticity that reduce excitatory synaptic transmission in response to prolonged increases in neuronal activity may prevent runaway positive feedback in neuronal circuits. In hippocampal neurons, for example, glutamatergic presynaptic terminals are selectively silenced, creating “mute” synapses, after periods of increased neuronal activity or sustained depolarization. Previous work suggests that cAMP-dependent and proteasome-dependent mechanisms participate in silencing induction by depolarization, but upstream activators are unknown. We, therefore, tested the role of calcium and G-protein signaling in silencing induction in cultured hippocampal neurons. We found that silencing induction by depolarization was not dependent on rises in intracellular calcium, from either extracellular or intracellular sources. Silencing was, however, pertussis toxin sensitive, which suggests that inhibitory G-proteins are recruited. Surprisingly, blocking four common inhibitory G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) (adenosine A1 receptors, GABAB receptors, metabotropic glutamate receptors, and CB1 cannabinoid receptors) and one ionotropic receptor with metabotropic properties (kainate receptors) failed to prevent depolarization-induced silencing. Activating a subset of these GPCRs (A1 and GABAB ) with agonist application induced silencing, however, which supports the hypothesis that G-protein activation is a critical step in silencing. Overall, our results suggest that depolarization activates silencing through an atypical GPCR or through receptor-independent G-protein activation. GPCR agonist-induced silencing exhibited dependence on the ubiquitin-proteasome system, as was shown previously for depolarization-induced silencing, implicating the degradation of vital synaptic proteins in silencing by GPCR activation. These data suggest that presynaptic muting in hippocampal neurons uses a G-protein-dependent but calcium-independent mechanism to depress presynaptic vesicle release.
PMCID: PMC3311872  PMID: 21248122
18.  GABAB receptors modulate NMDA receptor calcium signals in dendritic spines 
Neuron  2010;66(1):101-113.
Metabotropic GABAB receptors play a fundamental role in modulating the excitability of neurons and circuits throughout the brain. These receptors influence synaptic transmission by inhibiting presynaptic release or activating postsynaptic potassium channels. However, their ability to directly influence different types of postsynaptic glutamate receptors remains unresolved. Here we examine GABAB receptor modulation in layer 2/3 pyramidal neurons from the mouse prefrontal cortex. We use two-photon laser-scanning microscopy to study synaptic modulation at individual dendritic spines. Using two-photon optical quantal analysis, we first demonstrate robust presynaptic modulation of multivesicular release at single synapses. Using two-photon glutamate uncaging, we then reveal that GABAB receptors strongly inhibit NMDA receptor calcium signals. This postsynaptic modulation occurs via the PKA pathway and does not affect synaptic currents mediated by AMPA or NMDA receptors. This novel form of GABAB receptor modulation has widespread implications for the control of calcium-dependent neuronal function.
PMCID: PMC2861500  PMID: 20399732
GABAB receptor; NMDA receptor; PKA; prefrontal cortex; pyramidal neurons; dendrite; spine; two-photon microscopy; two-photon uncaging
19.  Loss of glutathione homeostasis associated with neuronal senescence facilitates TRPM2 channel activation in cultured hippocampal pyramidal neurons 
Molecular Brain  2012;5:11.
Glutathione (GSH) plays an important role in neuronal oxidant defence. Depletion of cellular GSH is observed in neurodegenerative diseases and thereby contributes to the associated oxidative stress and Ca2+ dysregulation. Whether depletion of cellular GSH, associated with neuronal senescence, directly influences Ca2+ permeation pathways is not known. Transient receptor potential melastatin type 2 (TRPM2) is a Ca2+ permeable non-selective cation channel expressed in several cell types including hippocampal pyramidal neurons. Moreover, activation of TRPM2 during oxidative stress has been linked to cell death. Importantly, GSH has been reported to inhibit TRPM2 channels, suggesting they may directly contribute to Ca2+ dysregulation associated with neuronal senescence. Herein, we explore the relation between cellular GSH and TRPM2 channel activity in long-term cultures of hippocampal neurons.
In whole-cell voltage-clamp recordings, we observe that TRPM2 current density increases in cultured pyramidal neurons over time in vitro. The observed increase in current density was prevented by treatment with NAC, a precursor to GSH synthesis. Conversely, treatment of cultures maintained for 2 weeks in vitro with L-BSO, which depletes GSH by inhibiting its synthesis, augments TRPM2 currents. Additionally, we demonstrate that GSH inhibits TRPM2 currents through a thiol-independent mechanism, and produces a 3.5-fold shift in the dose-response curve generated by ADPR, the intracellular agonist for TRPM2.
These results indicate that GSH plays a physiologically relevant role in the regulation of TRPM2 currents in hippocampal pyramidal neurons. This interaction may play an important role in aging and neurological diseases associated with depletion of GSH.
PMCID: PMC3352021  PMID: 22487454
TRPM2; Aging; Glutathione; Oxidative stress; Pyramidal neuron; Primary hippocampal culture
20.  Purinergic P2X receptors facilitate inhibitory GABAergic and glycinergic neurotransmission to cardiac vagal neurons in the nucleus ambiguus 
Brain research  2008;1224:53-62.
This study examined whether adenosine 5’-triphosphate (ATP) modulated inhibitory glycinergic and GABAergic neurotransmission to cardiac vagal neurons. Inhibitory activity to cardiac vagal neurons was isolated and examined using whole-cell patch-clamp recordings in an in vitro brain slice preparation in rats. ATP (100 µM) evoked increases in the frequency of glycinergic and GABAergic miniature inhibitory postsynaptic currents (mIPSCs) in cardiac vagal neurons which were blocked by the broad P2 receptor antagonist pyridoxal-phosphate-6-azophenyl-2’,4’-disulphonic acid (100 µM). Application of the P2Y agonists uridine triphosphate (15 µM) and adenosine 5'-0-(Z-thiodiphosphate) (60 µM) did not enhance inhibitory neurotransmission to cardiac vagal neurons however, application of the selective P2X receptor agonist, α, β –methylene ATP (100 µM), increased glycinergic and GABAergic mIPSC neurotransmission to cardiac vagal neurons. The increase in inhibitory neurotransmission evoked by α, β–methylene ATP was abolished by the selective P2X receptor antagonist 2',3'-O-(2,4,6-Trinitrophenyl) adenosine 5'-triphosphate (100 µM) indicating P2X receptors enhance the release of inhibitory neurotransmitters to cardiac neurons. The voltage gated calcium channel blocker cadmium chloride did not alter the evoked increase in inhibitory mIPSCs. This work demonstrates that P2X receptor activation enhances inhibitory neurotransmission to parasympathetic cardiac vagal neurons and demonstrates an important functional role for ATP mediated purinergic signaling to cardiac vagal neurons.
PMCID: PMC2579798  PMID: 18590708
nucleus ambiguus; ATP; purinergic; glycine; GABA; heart rate
21.  Acute Administration of Non-Classical Estrogen Receptor Agonists Attenuates Ischemia-Induced Hippocampal Neuron Loss in Middle-Aged Female Rats 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(1):e8642.
Pretreatment with 17β-estradiol (E2) is profoundly neuroprotective in young animals subjected to focal and global ischemia. However, whether E2 retains its neuroprotective efficacy in aging animals, especially when administered after brain insult, is largely unknown.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We examined the neuroprotective effects of E2 and two agonists that bind to non-classical estrogen receptors, G1 and STX, when administered after ischemia in middle-aged rats after prolonged ovarian hormone withdrawal. Eight weeks after ovariectomy, middle-aged female rats underwent 10 minutes of global ischemia by four vessel occlusion. Immediately after reperfusion, animals received a single infusion of either E2 (2.25 µg), G1 (50 µg) or STX (50 µg) into the lateral ventricle (ICV) or a single systemic injection of E2 (100 µg/kg). Surviving pyramidal neurons in the hippocampal CA1 were quantified 1 week later. E2 and both agonists that target non-classical estrogen receptors (G1 and STX) administered ICV at the time of reperfusion provided significant levels of neuroprotection, with 55–60% of CA1 neurons surviving vs 15% survival in controls. A single systemic injection of a pharmacological dose of E2 also rescued approximately 50% of CA1 pyramidal neurons destined to die. To determine if E2 and G1 have similar mechanisms of action in hippocampal neurons, we compared the ability of E2 and G1 to modify CA1 pyramidal neuron responses to excitatory inputs from the Schaffer collaterals recorded in hippocampal slices derived from female rats not subjected to global ischemia. E2 and G1 (10 nM) significantly potentiated pyramidal neuron responses to excitatory inputs when applied to hippocampal slices.
These findings suggest (1) that middle-aged female rats retain their responsiveness to E2 even after a long period of hormone withdrawal, (2) that non-classical estrogen receptors may mediate the neuroprotective actions of E2 when given after ischemia, and (3) that the neuroprotective efficacy of estrogens may be related to their modulation of synaptic activity in hippocampal slices.
PMCID: PMC2799530  PMID: 20062809
22.  Loss of IP3R-Dependent Ca2+ Increases in Hippocampal Astrocytes Does Not Affect Baseline CA1 Pyramidal Neuron Synaptic Activity 
Astrocytes in the hippocampus release calcium (Ca2+) from intracellular stores intrinsically and in response to activation of Gq-linked G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) through the binding of inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) to its receptor (IP3R). Astrocyte Ca2+ has been deemed necessary and sufficient to trigger the release of gliotransmitters, such as ATP and glutamate, from astrocytes to modulate neuronal activity. Several lines of evidence suggest that IP3R Type 2 (IP3R2) is the primary IP3R expressed by astrocytes. In order to determine if IP3R2 is the primary functional IP3R responsible for astrocytic Ca2+ increases, we conducted experiments using an IP3R2 knockout mouse model (IP3R2 KO). We show for the first time that lack of IP3R2 blocks both spontaneous and Gq-linked GPCR mediated increases in astrocyte Ca2+. Furthermore, neuronal Gq-linked GPCR Ca2+ increases remain intact, suggesting that IP3R2 does not play a major functional role in neuronal calcium store release or may not be expressed in neurons. Additionally, we show that lack of IP3R2 in the hippocampus does not affect baseline excitatory neuronal synaptic activity as measured by spontaneous EPSC (sEPSC) recordings from CA1 pyramidal neurons. Whole cell recordings of the tonic NMDA receptor (NMDA-R) mediated current indicates that ambient glutamate levels are also unaffected in the IP3R2 KO. These data show that IP3R2 is the key functional IP3R driving Gq-linked GPCR mediated Ca2+ increases in hippocampal astrocytes and that removal of astrocyte Ca2+ increases does not significantly affect excitatory neuronal synaptic activity or ambient glutamate levels.
PMCID: PMC2709811  PMID: 18463250
Astrocyte; Calcium; Inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate; IP3 Receptor; Hippocampus; Gliotransmitter
23.  A role of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase in adenosine A1 receptor-mediated synaptic depotentiation in area CA1 of the rat hippocampus 
Molecular Brain  2008;1:13.
Although long-term potentiation (LTP) of synaptic strength is very persistent, current studies have provided evidence that various manipulations or pharmacological treatment when applied shortly after LTP induction can reverse it. This kind of reversal of synaptic strength is termed as depotentiation and may have a function to increase the flexibility and storage capacity of neuronal networks. Our previous studies have demonstrated that an increase in extracellular levels of adenosine and subsequent activation of adenosine A1 receptors are important for the induction of depotentiation; however, the signaling downstream of adenosine A1 receptors to mediate depotentiation induction remains elusive.
We confirm that depotentiation induced by low-frequency stimulation (LFS) (2 Hz, 10 min, 1200 pulses) was dependent on adenosine A1 receptor activation, because it was mimicked by bath-applied adenosine A1 receptor agonist N6-cyclopentyladenosine (CPA) and was inhibited by the selective adenosine A1 receptor antagonist 8-cyclopentyl-1,3-dipropylxanthine (DPCPX). Pretreatment of the hippocampal slices with the selective p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) inhibitors, 4-(4-fluorophenyl)-2-(4-methylsulfinylphenyl]-5-(4-pyrudyl)-1H-imidazole (SB203580) or trans-1-(4-hydroxycyclohexyl)-4-(fluorophenyl)-5-(2-methoxypyrimidin-4-yl)imidazole (SB239063), prevented the induction of depotentiation by LFS and CPA. In agreement with electrophysiological observation, both LFS- and CPA-induced depotentiation are associated with an increase in p38 MAPK activation, which are blocked by DPCPX or SB203580 application.
These results suggest that activation of adenosine A1 receptor and in turn triggering p38 MAPK signaling may contribute to the LFS-induced depotentiation at hippocampal CA1 synapses.
PMCID: PMC2579284  PMID: 18947392
24.  Contribution of CA3 and CA1 pyramidal neurons to the tonic α7 nAChR-dependent glutamatergic input to CA1 pyramidal neurons 
Neuroscience letters  2013;554:10.1016/j.neulet.2013.08.025.
The Schaffer collaterals are among the major glutamatergic inputs to CA1 pyramidal neurons, the primary output of the hippocampus, which also receive sparse recurrent inputs from pyramidal neurons in the CA1 field. Although tonically active α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) have been shown to sustain spontaneous glutamate transmission to CA1 pyramidal neurons in hippocampal slices under resting conditions, it remains to be determined whether these receptors are those expressed by CA3 or CA1 pyramidal neurons. This study was designed to test the hypothesis that the CA3 field of the hippocampus is a significant source of α7 nAChR-sustained glutamatergic transmission to CA1 pyramidal neurons. To this end, spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) were recorded from CA1 and CA3 pyramidal neurons in intact rat hippocampal slices as well as from CA1 pyramidal neurons in CA3-ablated slices under various experimental conditions. Surgical removal of the CA3 region from the slices reduced by 20% the frequency of spontaneous EPSCs recorded from CA1 pyramidal neurons. This finding is in agreement with the concept that the CA3 field contributes significantly to the maintenance of spontaneous glutamatergic synaptic activity in CA1 pyramidal neurons. In addition, the α7 nAChR antagonist methyllycaconitine (MLA, 10 nM) reduced the frequency of spontaneous EPSCs recorded from CA1 pyramidal neurons by 30% in intact slices and 12% in CA3-ablated slices. Taken together, these results demonstrate that tonically active α7 nAChRs in CA3 pyramidal neurons and/or in the Mossy fibers that innervate the CA3 pyramidal neurons do in fact contribute to the maintenance of glutamatergic synaptic activity in CA1 pyramidal neurons of hippocampal slices under resting conditions.
PMCID: PMC3825813  PMID: 23973303
hippocampus; EPSC; methyllycaconitine; tetrodotoxin; α7 nAChR; pyramidal neuron
25.  A Post-Burst Afterdepolarization Is Mediated by Group I Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor-Dependent Upregulation of Cav2.3 R-Type Calcium Channels in CA1 Pyramidal Neurons 
PLoS Biology  2010;8(11):e1000534.
The excitability of hippocampal pyramidal neurons is regulated by activation of metabotropic glutamate receptors, an effect that is mediated by modulation of R-type calcium channels.
Activation of group I metabotropic glutamate receptors (subtypes mGluR1 and mGluR5) regulates neural activity in a variety of ways. In CA1 pyramidal neurons, activation of group I mGluRs eliminates the post-burst afterhyperpolarization (AHP) and produces an afterdepolarization (ADP) in its place. Here we show that upregulation of Cav2.3 R-type calcium channels is responsible for a component of the ADP lasting several hundred milliseconds. This medium-duration ADP is rapidly and reversibly induced by activation of mGluR5 and requires activation of phospholipase C (PLC) and release of calcium from internal stores. Effects of mGluR activation on subthreshold membrane potential changes are negligible but are large following action potential firing. Furthermore, the medium ADP exhibits a biphasic activity dependence consisting of short-term facilitation and longer-term inhibition. These findings suggest that mGluRs may dramatically alter the firing of CA1 pyramidal neurons via a complex, activity-dependent modulation of Cav2.3 R-type channels that are activated during spiking at physiologically relevant rates and patterns.
Author Summary
The hippocampus is an essential structure in the brain for the formation of new declarative memories. Understanding the cellular basis of memory formation, storage, and recall in the hippocampus requires a knowledge of the properties of the relevant neurons and how they are modulated by activity in the neural circuit. For many years, we have known that various chemical neurotransmitters can modulate the electrical excitability of neurons in the hippocampus. Here, we report new experiments to reveal how the chemical neurotransmitter glutamate increases neuronal excitability. The effect we study is the conversion of the afterhyperpolarization (a cellular consequence of firing an action potential) to an afterdepolarization. We identified the metabotropic glutamate receptors involved in this conversion (receptors called mGluR1 and mGluR5) as well as the final target of modulation (R-type calcium channels composed of Cav2.3 subunits), which cause the neurons to exhibit altered excitability in the presence of glutamate. We also determined some of the intermediate steps between activation of the glutamate receptors and modulation of the calcium channels responsible for the change in excitability, offering further mechanistic insight into how synaptic transmission can regulate cellular and network activity.
PMCID: PMC2982802  PMID: 21103408

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