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J Neurophysiol. 1995 Aug;74(2):650-72.

Diverse neuronal populations mediate local circuit excitation in area CA3 of developing hippocampus.

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Cain Foundation Laboratories, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


1. Studies were undertaken to better understand why the developing hippocampus has a marked capacity to generate prolonged synchronized discharges when exposed to gamma-aminobutyric acid-A (GABAA) receptor antagonists. 2. Excitatory synaptic interactions were studied in small microdissected segments of hippocampal area CA3. Slices were obtained from 10- to 16-day-old rats. Application of the GABAA receptor antagonist penicillin produced prolonged synchronized discharges in minislices that were very similar, if not identical, to those recorded in intact slices. The sizes of minislices were systematically varied. Greater than 90% of those that measured 600 microns along the cell body layer produced prolonged synchronized discharges, whereas most minislices measuring 300 microns produced only brief interictal spikes. 3. Action potentials in the majority (75%, 158 of 254) of cells impaled with microelectrodes were able to entrain the entire CA3 population. They were also able to increase (on average 26%) the frequency of spontaneous population discharges. The population discharges were followed by a refractory period that lasted 5-60 s, during which single cells were unable to initiate a population discharge. 4. The majority (87%) of neurons with intrinsic burst properties were found to entrain the CA3 population. The electrophysiological characteristics of these cells were reminiscent of recordings obtained from more mature rats. Action potentials were quite prolonged and demonstrated a secondary shoulder or hump on the down-slope of the spike. 5. When bursting cells were filled with Lucifer yellow and imaged during recording sessions by videomicroscopy and later using confocal microscopy, they showed the anatomic features of CA3 hippocampal pyramidal cells. Confocal microscopy permitted detailed characterization of individual neurons and showed substantial variation in cellular microanatomy. 6. Another class of cells that were found to entrain the CA3 population but did not demonstrate intrinsic bursts were termed regular-firing cells. These cells possessed many of the anatomic and physiological features of bursting cells with the exception of burst firing. They were rarely encountered in intracellular recordings. 7. The third physiological class of cells was termed fast-spiking cells. These had action potentials that were shorter in duration than the other two cell types. They were distinct in the rapid rate of spike repolarization. They demonstrated modest degrees of spike frequency adaptation and fired repeatedly and at relatively high frequencies. Compared with reports on fast-spiking cells in mature hippocampus and neocortex, action potentials appear to be slower and repetitive discharging appeared to be of a lower frequency.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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