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Brain Res. 2000 Dec 1;885(1):14-24.

Interferon-alpha inhibits long-term potentiation and unmasks a long-term depression in the rat hippocampus.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Botterell Hall, Ninth Floor, Queen's University, Ontario K7L 3N6, Kingston, Canada.


Interferons (IFN) appear to have various neuromodulatory actions. Here, we characterized the actions of IFN-alpha on the electrophysiological properties of CA1 hippocampal neurons using intracellular recordings. Superfusion of this cytokine did not alter the resting membrane potential, cell input resistance, action potentials, nor GABA-mediated fast synaptic potentials. IFN-alpha inhibited glutamate-mediated excitatory postsynaptic potentials (gEPSPs) and reversed or prevented long-term potentiation (LTP) induced by high-frequency tetanic stimulation. IFN-alpha reduced gEPSP amplitude far below its control value. Only a short-term potentiation (STP) was observed when either IFN-alpha or D-2-amino-5-phosphonovalerato (APV; NMDA receptor antagonist) were present during tetanic stimulation. After this STP in presence of APV, IFN-alpha had no effect on gEPSPs. APV had no effect on LTP when applied after tetanic stimulation and did also not prevent IFN-alpha effect on LTP. Genistein (a tyrosine kinase inhibitor) or heat inactivation prevented IFN-alpha effects. IFN-alpha also decreased the depolarization induced by local application of glutamate but did not modify those induced by NMDA. Similarly, IFN-alpha reversed the potentiation (induced by tetanic stimulation) of glutamate-induced depolarizations. IFN-alpha did not affect long-term depression (LTD) induced by low-frequency tetanic stimulation. In conclusion, IFN-alpha-induced inhibition of LTP is, at least in part, mediated by a postsynaptic effect, by tyrosine kinase activity, and by non-NMDA glutamate receptors. Inhibition of LTP by IFN-alpha unmasks LTD which is induced by the same high-frequency tetanic stimulation.

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