Send to

Choose Destination
Nature. 1991 Nov 7;354(6348):73-6.

Dendritic spines as individual neuronal compartments for synaptic Ca2+ responses.

Author information

Roche Institute of Molecular Biology, Department of Neurosciences, Roche Research Center, Nutley, New Jersey 07110.


The possibility that postsynaptic spines on neuronal dendrites are discrete biochemical compartments for Ca(2+)-activated processes involved in synaptic plasticity is a widely proposed concept that has eluded experimental demonstration. Using microfluorometry on CA3 neurons in hippocampal slices, we show here that with weak presynaptic stimulation of associative/commissural fibres, Ca2+ accumulates in single postsynaptic spines but not in the parent dendrite. Stronger stimulation also promotes changes in dendrites. The NMDA-receptor antagonist AP-5 blocks changes in Ca2+ in spines. Sustained steep Ca2+ gradients between single spines and the parent dendrite, often lasting several minutes, develop with repeated stimulation. The observed compartmentalization allows for the specificity, cooperativity and associativity displayed by memory models such as long-term potentiation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group
Loading ...
Support Center