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J Neurosci. 2000 Aug 1;20(15):5820-6.

Long-lasting inhibitory synaptic depression is age- and calcium-dependent.

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  • 1Center for Neural Science and Department of Biology, New York University, New York 10003, USA.


The developmental refinement of excitatory synapses is often influenced by neuronal activity, and underlying synaptic mechanisms have been suggested. In contrast, few studies have asked whether inhibitory synapses are reorganized during development and whether this is accompanied by use-dependent changes of inhibitory synaptic strength. The topographic inhibitory projection from the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body (MNTB) to the lateral superior olive (LSO) undergoes synapse elimination during development (Sanes and Tak√°cs, 1993). To determine whether there is an associated period of synaptic plasticity, whole-cell recordings were obtained from developing LSO neurons of gerbils in a brain slice preparation. In current-clamp recordings, low-frequency stimulation of the MNTB led to a decline in IPSP amplitude by 43%. In voltage-clamp recordings, hyperpolarized LSO neurons also exhibited a long-lasting depression of MNTB-evoked inhibitory synaptic currents (34%) after low-frequency stimulation. When LSO neurons were depolarized, low-frequency stimulation of the MNTB produced a significantly larger inhibitory synaptic depression (59%). This synaptic plasticity declined dramatically by postnatal days 17-19. Similar to well studied forms of excitatory synaptic plasticity, inhibitory depression depended on postsynaptic calcium. We propose that such activity-dependent synaptic depression may support the developmental rearrangement of inhibitory terminals as they compete with neighboring excitatory and/or inhibitory inputs.

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