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J Neurophysiol. 1997 Jun;77(6):3134-44.

Recruitment of GABAergic inhibition and synchronization of inhibitory interneurons in rat neocortex.

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Department of Neurology, State University of New York, Health Science Center, Brooklyn 11203, USA.


Intracellular recordings were obtained from pyramidal and interneuronal cells in rat neocortical slices to examine the recruitment of GABAergic inhibition and inhibitory interneurons. In the presence of the convulsant agent 4-aminopyridine (4-AP), after excitatory amino acid (EAA) ionotropic transmission was blocked, large-amplitude triphasic inhibitory postsynaptic potentials (IPSPs) occurred rhythmically (every 10-40 s) and synchronously in pyramidal neurons. After exposure to the gamma-aminobutyric acid-A (GABA(A)) receptor antagonist picrotoxin, large-amplitude monophasic slow IPSPs persisted in these cells. In the presence of 4-AP and EAA blockers, interneurons showed periodic spike firing. Although some spikes rode on an underlying synaptic depolarization, much of the rhythmic firing consisted of spikes having highly variable amplitudes, arising abruptly from baseline, even during hyperpolarization. The spike firing and depolarizing synaptic potentials were completely suppressed by picrotoxin exposure, although monophasic slow IPSPs persisted in interneurons. This suggests that this subset of interneurons may participate in generating fast GABA(A) IPSPs, but not slow GABA(B) IPSPs. Cell morphology was confirmed by intracellular injection of neurobiotin or the fluorescent dye Lucifer yellow CH. Dye injection into interneurons often (>70%) resulted in the labeling of two to six cells (dye coupling). These findings suggest that GABA(A)ergic neurons may be synchronized via recurrent collaterals through the depolarizing action of synaptically activated GABA(A) receptors and a mechanism involving electrotonic coupling. Although inhibitory neurons mediating GABA(B) IPSPs may be entrained by the excitatory GABA(A) mechanism, they appear to be a separate subset of GABAergic neurons capable of functioning independently with autonomous pacing.

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