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J Physiol. 2003 Feb 1;546(Pt 3):701-16.

Modulation of inhibitory autapses and synapses on rat CA1 interneurones by GABA(A) receptor ligands.

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Department of Physiology, Royal Free and UCL Medical School, Rowland Hill Street, London NW3 2PF, UK.


To determine whether autaptic inhibition plays a functional role in the adult hippocampus, the action potential afterhyperpolarisations (spike AHPs) of CA1 interneurones were investigated in 25 basket, three bistratified and eight axo-axonic cells. The spike AHPs showed two minima in all regular-spiking (5), burst-firing (3) and in many fast-spiking cells (17:28). The fast component had a time-to-peak (TTP) of 1.2 +/- 0.5 ms, the slower TTP was very variable (range of 3.3-103 ms). The AHP width at half-amplitude (HW) was 12.5 +/- 5.7 ms in fast-spiking, 29.3 +/- 18 ms in regular-spiking and 99.7 +/- 42 ms in burst-firing cells. Axo-axonic cells never establish autapses, and the fast-spiking variety showed narrow (HW: 3.9 +/- 0.7 ms) spike AHPs with only one AHP minimum (TTP: 0.9 +/- 0.1 ms). When challenged with GABA(A) receptor modulators, spike AHPs in basket and bistratified cells were enhanced by zolpidem (HW by 18.4 +/- 6.2 % in 10:15 cells tested), diazepam (45.2 +/- 0.5 %, 6:7), etomidate (43.9 +/- 36 %, 6:8) and pentobarbitone sodium (41 %, 1:1), and were depressed by bicuculline (-41 +/- 5.7 %, 5:8) and picrotoxin (-54 %, 1:1), and the enhancement produced by zolpidem was reduced by flumazenil (-31 +/- 13 %, relative to the AHP HW during exposure to zolpidem, 3:4). Neuronal excitability was modulated in parallel. The spike AHPs of three axo-axonic cells tested showed no sensitivity to etomidate, pentobarbitone or diazepam. Interneurone-to-interneurone inhibitory postsynaptic potentials (IPSPs), studied with dual intracellular recordings, had time courses resembling those of the spike AHPs. The IPSP HW was 13.4 +/- 2.8 ms in fast-spiking (n = 16) and 28.7 +/- 5.8 ms in regular-spiking/burst-firing cells (n = 6), and the benzodiazepine1-selective modulator zolpidem strongly enhanced these IPSPs (45 +/- 28 %, n = 5). Interneurones with spike AHPs affected by the GABA(A) receptor ligands exhibited 3.8 +/- 1.9 close autaptic appositions. In three basket cells studied at the ultrastructural level 6 of 6, 1 of 2 and 1 of 2 close appositions were confirmed as autapses. Therefore, in the hippocampus autaptic connections contribute to spike AHPs in many interneurones. These autapses influence neuronal firing and responses to GABA(A) receptor ligands.

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