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Neuron. 2003 Aug 14;39(4):641-54.

Neocortical LTD via coincident activation of presynaptic NMDA and cannabinoid receptors.

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Department of Biology, Volen Center for Complex Systems, Brandeis University, Mailstop 008, 415 South Street, Waltham, MA 02454, USA.


There is a consensus that NMDA receptors (NMDARs) detect coincident pre- and postsynaptic activity during induction of long-term potentiation (LTP), but their role in timing-dependent long-term depression (tLTD) is unclear. We examine tLTD in neocortical layer 5 (L5) pyramidal pairs and find that tLTD is expressed presynaptically, implying retrograde signaling. CB1 agonists produce depression that mimics and occludes tLTD. This agonist-induced LTD requires presynaptic activity and NMDAR activation, but not postsynaptic Ca(2+) influx. Further experiments demonstrate the existence of presynaptic NMDARs that underlie the presynaptic activity dependence. Finally, manipulating cannabinoid breakdown alters the temporal window for tLTD. In conclusion, tLTD requires simultaneous activation of presynaptic NMDA and CB1 receptors. This novel form of coincidence detection may explain the temporal window of tLTD and may also impart synapse specificity to cannabinoid retrograde signaling.

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