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J Neurosci. 2003 Feb 1;23(3):859-66.

Functional autaptic neurotransmission in fast-spiking interneurons: a novel form of feedback inhibition in the neocortex.

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Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


Autapses are synapses made by a neuron onto itself. Although morphological evidence for existence of autapses has been reported in several brain areas, it is not known whether such self-innervation in the neocortex is functional and robust. Here we report that GABAergic autaptic activity is present in fast-spiking, but not in low-threshold spiking, interneurons of layer V in neocortical slices. Recordings made with the perforated-patch technique, in which physiological intracellular chloride homeostasis was unperturbed, demonstrated that autaptic activity has significant inhibitory effects on repetitive firing and increased the current threshold for evoking action potentials. These results show that autapses are not rudimentary nonfunctional structures, but rather they provide a novel and powerful form of feedback inhibitory synaptic transmission in one class of cortical interneurons.

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