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Eur J Neurosci. 2012 May;35(9):1381-95. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2012.08056.x. Epub 2012 Mar 30.

Endogenously released ACh and exogenous nicotine differentially facilitate long-term potentiation induction in the hippocampal CA1 region of mice.

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Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697-4550, USA.


We examined the role of α7- and β2-containing nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in the induction of long-term potentiation (LTP). Theta-burst stimulation (TBS), mimicking the brain's naturally occurring theta rhythm, induced robust LTP in hippocampal slices from α7 and β2 knockout mice. This suggests TBS is capable of inducing LTP without activation of α7- or β2-containing nAChRs. However, when weak TBS was applied, the modulatory effects of nicotinic receptors on LTP induction became visible. We showed that during weak TBS, activation of α7 nAChRs occurs by the release of ACh, contributing to LTP induction. Additionally, bath-application of nicotine activated β2-containing nAChRs to promote LTP induction. Despite predicted nicotine-induced desensitization, synaptically mediated activation of α7 nAChRs still occurs in the presence of nicotine and contributed to LTP induction. Optical recording of single-stimulation-evoked excitatory activity with a voltage-sensitive dye revealed enhanced excitatory activity in the presence of nicotine. This effect of nicotine was robust during high-frequency stimulation, and was accompanied by enhanced burst excitatory postsynaptic potentials. Nicotine-induced enhancement of excitatory activity was observed in slices from α7 knockout mice, but was absent in β2 knockout mice. These results suggest that the nicotine-induced enhancement of excitatory activity is mediated by β2-containing nAChRs, and is related to the nicotine-induced facilitation of LTP induction. Thus, our study demonstrates that the activation of α7- and β2-containing nAChRs differentially facilitates LTP induction via endogenously released ACh and exogenous nicotine, respectively, in the hippocampal CA1 region of mice.

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