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Neuroscience. 2010 Feb 17;165(4):1170-81. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2009.11.047. Epub 2009 Dec 1.

The N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist CPP alters synapse and spine structure and impairs long-term potentiation and long-term depression induced morphological plasticity in dentate gyrus of the awake rat.

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  • 1Department of Life Sciences, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.


Long-term morphological synaptic changes associated with homosynaptic long-term potentiation (LTP) and heterosynaptic long-term depression (LTD) in vivo, in awake adult rats were analyzed using three-dimensional (3-D) reconstructions of electron microscope images of ultrathin serial sections from the molecular layer of the dentate gyrus. For the first time in morphological studies, the specificity of the effects of LTP and LTD on both spine and synapse ultrastructure was determined using an N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist CPP (3-[(R)-2-carboxypiperazin-4-yl]-propyl-1-phosphonic acid). There were no differences in synaptic density 24 h after LTP or LTD induction, and CPP alone had no effect on synaptic density. LTP increased significantly the proportion of mushroom spines, whereas LTD increased the proportion of thin spines, and both LTP and LTD decreased stubby spine number. Both LTP and LTD increased significantly spine head evaginations (spinules) into synaptic boutons and CPP blocked these changes. Synaptic boutons were smaller after LTD, indicating a pre-synaptic effect. Interestingly, CPP alone decreased bouton and mushroom spine volumes, as well as post-synaptic density (PSD) volume of mushroom spines.These data show similarities, but also some clear differences, between the effects of LTP and LTD on spine and synaptic morphology. Although CPP blocks both LTP and LTD, and impairs most morphological changes in spines and synapses, CPP alone was shown to exert effects on aspects of spine and synaptic structure.

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