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J Neurosci. 1997 Jun 1;17(11):3990-4005.

Interneurons of the dentate-hilus border of the rat dentate gyrus: morphological and electrophysiological heterogeneity.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.


Interneurons located near the border of the dentate granule cell layer and the hilus were studied in hippocampal slices using whole-cell current clamp and biocytin staining. Because these interneurons exhibit both morphological and electrophysiological diversity, we asked whether passive electrotonic parameters or repetitive firing behavior correlated with axonal distribution. Each interneuron was distinguished by a preferred axonal distribution in the molecular layer or granule cell layer, and four groups could be discerned, the axons of which arborized in (1) the granule cell layer, (2) the inner molecular layer, (3) the outer molecular layer, and (4) diffusely in the molecular layer. In our sample, interneurons with axons arborizing diffusely in the molecular layer were most frequent, and those with axons restricted to the granule cell layer were least frequent. Resting potential, input resistance, time constant, electrotonic length, and spike frequency adaptation (SFA) were not significantly different among the four groups, and the variability in SFA between cells with similar axonal distributions was striking. Clear differences in action potential morphology and afterhyperpolarizations, however, emerged when nonadapting interneurons were compared with those exhibiting SFA. Interneurons exhibiting SFA had characteristically broader spikes, progressive slowing of action potential repolarization during repetitive firing, and slow afterhyperpolarizations that distinguished them from nonadapting interneurons. We propose that the variability in repetitive firing behavior and morphology exhibited by each of these interneurons makes each interneuron unique and may provide a high level of fine tuning of inhibitory control critical to information processing in the dentate.

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