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Neuroscience. 1989;28(3):551-61.

Postnatal development of GABA-mediated synaptic inhibition in rat hippocampus.

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Wadsworth Center for Laboratories and Research, New York State Department of Health, Albany 12201.


Developmental alterations in GABAergic synaptic transmission were examined physiologically and biochemically in hippocampus of rats from 3 days of age to adulthood. Neither antidromic nor orthodromic stimulation could elicit identifiable inhibitory postsynaptic potentials in CA1 neurons in slices from rats 5 or 6 days of age. In contrast, at this age these stimuli result in large inhibitory postsynaptic potentials in CA3 pyramidal cells. In the latter cells orthodromic stimulation produced a brief monosynaptic excitatory postsynaptic potential which was followed by a large prolonged biphasic hyperpolarization. These signals were strikingly similar to those recorded in 1-month-old rats. In addition, large recurrent inhibitory postsynaptic potentials were produced by antidromic stimulation. By postnatal day 9 similar inhibitory postsynaptic potentials could be elicited in a majority of neurons of the CA1 subfield. As in mature pyramidal cells, application of GABA antagonists, such as bicuculline, selectively eliminated the antidromic inhibitory postsynaptic potential and the first component of the biphasic inhibitory postsynaptic potential generated by stimulation of stratum radiatum. In the CA3 subfield, this blockade of GABA receptors resulted in prolonged afterdischarges in slices from immature but not month-old rats. Measurements of the equilibrium potential and the conductance of antidromic inhibitory postsynaptic potentials in CA3 neurons were very similar when made during the first postnatal week and at 1 month of age. While on days 10-11 the equilibrium potential was very similar to measurements made at these other ages, the conductance was 3-4 times greater. The activity of glutamate decarboxylase, the synthetic enzyme for GABA, was very low at 3 days in hippocampus, and increased until 30 days of age at which time adult values were obtained. By comparison, hippocampal GABA levels were high early in postnatal life. Glutamate decarboxylase activities in microdissected CA3 and CA1 subfields were similar in immature hippocampus. These results demonstrate dramatic differences in the ontogenesis of functional GABAergic inhibitory synaptic transmission in the CA1 and CA3 subfields of rat hippocampus. The late development of GABA-mediated synaptic inhibition in the CA1 subfield could play a role in the susceptibility of immature hippocampus to seizures. However, the large GABA-mediated inhibitory postsynaptic potentials present in the CA3 subfield at the same age have a critical role in dampening neuronal excitability.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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