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Nat Neurosci. 2004 Feb;7(2):126-35. Epub 2004 Jan 18.

LTP is accompanied by an enhanced local excitability of pyramidal neuron dendrites.

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  • 1Division of Neuroscience, Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


The propagation and integration of signals in the dendrites of pyramidal neurons is regulated, in part, by the distribution and biophysical properties of voltage-gated ion channels. It is thus possible that any modification of these channels in a specific part of the dendritic tree might locally alter these signaling processes. Using dendritic and somatic whole-cell recordings, combined with calcium imaging in rat hippocampal slices, we found that the induction of long-term potentiation (LTP) was accompanied by a local increase in dendritic excitability that was dependent on the activation of NMDA receptors. These changes favored the back-propagation of action potentials into this dendritic region with a subsequent boost in the Ca(2+) influx. Dendritic cell-attached patch recordings revealed a hyperpolarized shift in the inactivation curve of transient, A-type K(+) currents that can account for the enhanced excitability. These results suggest an important mechanism associated with LTP for shaping signal processing and controlling dendritic function.

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