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Neuron. 1996 Sep;17(3):461-74.

LTP of AMPA and NMDA receptor-mediated signals: evidence for presynaptic expression and extrasynaptic glutamate spill-over.

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Department of Clinical Neurology, Institute of Neurology, London, United Kingdom.


We have addressed the expression of long-term potentiation (LTP) in hippocampal CA1 by comparing AMPA and NMDA receptor-(AMPAR- and NMDAR-) mediated postsynaptic signals. We find that potentiation of NMDAR-mediated signals accompanies LTP of AMPAR-mediated signals, and is associated with a change in variability implying an increase in quantal content. Further, tetanic LTP of NMDAR-mediated signals can be elicited when LTP of AMPAR-mediated signals is prevented. We propose that LTP is mainly expressed presynaptically, and that, while AMPARs respond only to glutamate from immediately apposed terminals, NMDARs also sense glutamate released from terminals presynaptic to neighboring cells. We also find that tetanic LTP increases the rate of depression of NMDAR-mediated signals by the use-dependent blocker MK-801, implying an increase in the glutamate release probability. These findings argue for a presynaptic contribution to LTP and for extrasynaptic spill-over of glutamate onto NMDARs.

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