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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2010 Aug;35(9):1897-909. doi: 10.1038/npp.2010.61. Epub 2010 May 5.

Calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II mediates hippocampal glutamatergic plasticity during benzodiazepine withdrawal.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Toledo College of Medicine, Health Science Campus, Toledo, OH 43614, USA.


Benzodiazepine withdrawal anxiety is associated with potentiation of alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionate receptor (AMPAR) currents in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons attributable to increased synaptic incorporation of GluA1-containing AMPARs. The contribution of calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) to enhanced glutamatergic synaptic strength during withdrawal from 1-week oral flurazepam (FZP) administration was further examined in hippocampal slices. As earlier reported, AMPAR-mediated miniature excitatory postsynaptic current (mEPSC) amplitude increased in CA1 neurons from 1- and 2-day FZP-withdrawn rats, along with increased single-channel conductance in neurons from 2-day rats, estimated by non-stationary noise analysis. Input-output curve slope was increased without a change in paired-pulse facilitation, suggesting increased AMPAR postsynaptic efficacy rather than altered glutamate release. The increased mEPSC amplitude and AMPAR conductance were related to CaMKII activity, as intracellular inclusion of CaMKIINtide or autocamtide-2-related inhibitory peptide, but not scrambled peptide, prevented both AMPAR amplitude and conductance changes. mEPSC inhibition by 1-naphthyl acetyl spermine and the negative shift in rectification index at both withdrawal time points were consistent with functional incorporation of GluA2-lacking AMPARs. GluA1 but not GluA2 or GluA3 levels were increased in immunoblots of postsynaptic density (PSD)-enriched subcellular fractions of CA1 minislices from 1-day FZP-withdrawn rats, when mEPSC amplitude, but not conductance, was increased. Both GluA1 expression levels and CaMKII alpha-mediated GluA1 Ser(831) phosphorylation were increased in PSD-subfractions from 2-day FZP-withdrawn rats. As phospho-Thr(286)CaMKII alpha was unchanged, CaMKII alpha may be activated through an alternative signaling pathway. Synaptic insertion and subsequent CaMKII alpha-mediated Ser(831) phosphorylation of GluA1 homomers contribute to benzodiazepine withdrawal-induced AMPAR potentiation and may represent an important hippocampal pathway mediating both drug-induced and activity-dependent plasticity.

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