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J Physiol. 1999 Nov 15;521 Pt 1:113-22.

Behaviour of NMDA and AMPA receptor-mediated miniature EPSCs at rat cortical neuron synapses identified by calcium imaging.

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Department of Neurophysiology, Tohoku University School of Medicine, Sendai 980-8575, Japan.


1. Simultaneous recording of intracellular calcium concentration at a synapse and synaptic currents from the cell body allows mapping of miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs) to single synapses. 2. In the absence of extracellular Mg2+, 77 % of synapses had mEPSCs with fast and slow components, attributed to AMPA- and NMDA-type glutamate receptors, respectively. The remainder of synapses (23 %) had mEPSCs that lacked a fast component; these responses were attributed to NMDA receptors. 3. A strong positive correlation between the amplitude of the calcium transient and the NMDA receptor-mediated mEPSC was observed, indicating that the mEPSCs originate from an identified synapse. 4. At synapses that had both mEPSC components, the AMPA receptor component was positively correlated with charge influx mediated by NMDA receptors during repeated synaptic events. No periodic failure in the AMPA receptor mEPSC was observed at synapses expressing both receptor components. 5. A significant positive correlation between the mean amplitudes of NMDA and AMPA receptor components of mEPSCs is observed across different synapses. 6. We suggest that factors effecting both receptor classes, such as the amount of transmitter in synaptic vesicles, might contribute to the variation in mEPSC amplitude during repeated miniature events at a single synapse. Although the average postsynaptic response at different synapses can vary in amplitude, there appears to be a mechanism to keep the ratio of each receptor subtype within a narrow range.

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