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Nat Neurosci. 2013 May;16(5):605-12. doi: 10.1038/nn.3373. Epub 2013 Apr 7.

Noradrenaline is a stress-associated metaplastic signal at GABA synapses.

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Hotchkiss Brain Institute, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


Exposure to a stressor sensitizes behavioral and hormonal responses to future stressors. Stress-associated release of noradrenaline enhances the capacity of central synapses to show plasticity (metaplasticity). We found noradrenaline-dependent metaplasticity at GABA synapses in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus in rat and mouse that controls the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. In vivo stress exposure was required for these synapses to undergo activity-dependent long-term potentiation (LTPGABA). The activation of β-adrenergic receptors during stress functionally upregulated metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (mGluR1), allowing for mGluR1-dependent LTPGABA during afferent bursts. LTPGABA was expressed postsynaptically and manifested as the emergence of new functional synapses. Our findings provide, to the best of our knowledge, the first demonstration that noradrenaline release during an in vivo challenge alters information storage capacity at GABA synapses. Because these GABA synapses become excitatory following acute stress, this metaplasticity may contribute to neuroendocrine sensitization to stress.

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