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Nat Neurosci. 2001 Nov;4(11):1102-7.

NMDA receptor activation limits the number of synaptic connections during hippocampal development.

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Brain Research Institute, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057, Zurich, Switzerland.


Activity-dependent synaptic plasticity triggered by N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor activation is a fundamental property of many glutamatergic synapses and may be critical for the shaping and refinement of the structural and functional properties of neuronal circuits during early postnatal development. Using a combined morphological and electrophysiological approach, we showed that chronic blockade of NMDA receptors in hippocampal slice cultures during the first two weeks of postnatal development leads to a substantial increase in synapse number and results in a more complex dendritic arborization of CA1 pyramidal cells. Thus, the development of excitatory circuitry in the hippocampus is determined by two opposing processes: NMDA receptor-independent synapse formation and NMDA receptor-dependent attenuation of synaptogenesis.

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