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Neuroscience. 1998 Jul;85(1):1-13.

Interaction between paired-pulse facilitation and long-term potentiation of minimal excitatory postsynaptic potentials in rat hippocampal slices: a patch-clamp study.

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Brain Research Institute, Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, Moscow.


Long-term potentiation is an experimental paradigm used to study synaptic plasticity and memory mechanisms. One similarity between long-term potentiation and memory is the existence of several distinct phases. However, our preliminary quantal analysis did not reveal essential differences in expression mechanisms of the early (< 1 h) and later (up to 3 h) phases of long-term potentiation. The data were compatible with presynaptic mechanisms of both phases. Another approach to distinguish between presynaptic and postsynaptic mechanisms is analysis of interaction between long-term potentiation and presynaptic paired-pulse facilitation. Such analysis had been previously done mainly with recordings of field potentials reflecting the activity of large neuronal populations. Only the early potentiation phase had been previously analysed with recordings from single neurons. The results from different groups were contradictory. In the present study, minimal excitatory postsynaptic potentials were recorded from CA1 pyramidal neurons of rat hippocampal slices. Paired-pulse facilitation ratios were calculated for various periods (up to 2-3 h) following induction of long-term potentiation. The ratio persistently decreased in the majority of neurons following long-term potentiation induction. The decrease in the paired-pulse facilitation ratio correlated with the magnitude of long-term potentiation and with the initial (pretetanic) facilitation ratio. Therefore, the general results of the present analysis was similar with the results of the quantal analysis: it is consistent with a strong involvement of presynaptic mechanisms in maintenance of both early and late phases of long-term potentiation. However, individual neurons could show variable changes in the paired-pulse facilitation, e.g., increases at late (> 0.5-1 h) periods after tetanus. Calculations of partial correlations and regression analysis indicated that positive correlation between potentiation magnitude and initial (pretetanic) paired-pulse facilitation tended to increase in the late potentiation phase (1.5-2.5 h post-tetanus) indicating that different mechanisms are involved in the early (0.5 h post-tetanus) and the late phase of long-term potentiation. The findings are compatible with involvement of presynaptic mechanisms in both the early and late phases of long-term potentiation. However, the results suggest that contribution of changes in release probability and in effective number of transmitter release sites may differ during the two phases. It is suggested that activation of silent synapses and increases in the number of transmission zones due to pre- and postsynaptic structural rearrangements represent important mechanisms of the late phase of long-term potentiation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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