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J Neurophysiol. 2001 Jun;85(6):2423-31.

Effects of adult neurogenesis on synaptic plasticity in the rat dentate gyrus.

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Department of Physiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A8, Canada.


Ongoing neurogenesis in the adult hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG) generates a substantial population of young neurons. This phenomenon is present in all species examined thus far, including humans. Although the regulation of adult neurogenesis by various physiologically relevant factors such as learning and stress has been documented, the functional contributions of the newly born neurons to hippocampal functions are not known. We investigated possible contributions of the newly born granule neurons to synaptic plasticity in the hippocampal DG. In the standard hippocampal slice preparation perfused with artificial cerebrospinal fluid (ACSF), a small (10%) long-term potentiation (LTP) of the evoked field potentials is seen after tetanic stimulation of the afferent medial perforant pathway (MPP). The induction of this ACSF-LTP is resistant to a N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor blocker, D,L-2-amino-5-phosphonovaleric acid (APV), but is completely prevented by ifenprodil, a blocker of NR2B subtype of NMDA receptors. In contrast, slices perfused with picrotoxin (PICRO), a GABA-receptor blocker, revealed a larger (40--50%), APV-sensitive but ifenprodil-insensitive LTP. The ACSF-LTP required lower frequency of stimulation and fewer stimuli for its induction than the PICRO-LTP. All these characteristics of ACSF-LTP are in agreement with the properties of the putative individual new granule neurons examined previously with the use of the whole cell recording technique in a similar preparation. A causal relationship between neurogenesis and ACSF-LTP was confirmed in experiments using low dose of gamma radiation applied to the brain 3 wk prior to the electrophysiological experiments. In these experiments, the new cell proliferation was drastically reduced and ACSF-LTP was selectively blocked. We conclude that the young, adult-generated granule neurons play a significant role in synaptic plasticity in the DG. Since DG is the major source of the afferent inputs into the hippocampus, the production and the plasticity of new neurons may have an important role in the hippocampal functions such as learning and memory.

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