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J Neurochem. 2017 Feb;140(4):550-560. doi: 10.1111/jnc.13915. Epub 2017 Jan 12.

Dopamine-dependent effects on basal and glutamate stimulated network dynamics in cultured hippocampal neurons.

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Department of Neuroscience, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, District of Columbia, USA.
Department of Physics, Georgetown University, Washington, District of Columbia, USA.
Department of Pharmacology, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, District of Columbia, USA.
Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, District of Columbia, USA.


Oscillatory activity occurs in cortical and hippocampal networks with specific frequency ranges thought to be critical to working memory, attention, differentiation of neuronal precursors, and memory trace replay. Synchronized activity within relatively large neuronal populations is influenced by firing and bursting frequency within individual cells, and the latter is modulated by changes in intrinsic membrane excitability and synaptic transmission. Published work suggests that dopamine, a potent modulator of learning and memory, acts on dopamine receptor 1-like dopamine receptors to influence the phosphorylation and trafficking of glutamate receptor subunits, along with long-term potentiation of excitatory synaptic transmission in striatum and prefrontal cortex. Prior studies also suggest that dopamine can influence voltage gated ion channel function and membrane excitability in these regions. Fewer studies have examined dopamine's effect on related endpoints in hippocampus, or potential consequences in terms of network burst dynamics. In this study, we record action potential activity using a microelectrode array system to examine the ability of dopamine to modulate baseline and glutamate-stimulated bursting activity in an in vitro network of cultured murine hippocampal neurons. We show that dopamine stimulates a dopamine type-1 receptor-dependent increase in number of overall bursts within minutes of its application. Notably, however, at the concentration used herein, dopamine did not increase the overall synchrony of bursts between electrodes. Although the number of bursts normalizes by 40 min, bursting in response to a subsequent glutamate challenge is enhanced by dopamine pretreatment. Dopamine-dependent potentiation of glutamate-stimulated bursting was not observed when the two modulators were administered concurrently. In parallel, pretreatment of murine hippocampal cultures with dopamine stimulated lasting increases in the phosphorylation of the glutamate receptor subunit GluA1 at serine 845. This effect is consistent with the possibility that enhanced membrane insertion of GluAs may contribute to a more slowly evolving dopamine-dependent potentiation of glutamate-stimulated bursting. Together, these results are consistent with the possibility that dopamine can influence hippocampal bursting by at least two temporally distinct mechanisms, contributing to an emerging appreciation of dopamine-dependent effects on network activity in the hippocampus.


bursting; dopamine; glutamate; hippocampus; neuronal networks

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