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Nature. 1998 Aug 13;394(6694):683-7.

Calcium-permeable AMPA receptors mediate long-term potentiation in interneurons in the amygdala.

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The Neuroscience Group, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia.


Fear conditioning is a paradigm that has been used as a model for emotional learning in animals. The cellular correlate of fear conditioning is thought to be associative N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor-dependent synaptic plasticity within the amygdala. Here we show that glutamatergic synaptic transmission to inhibitory interneurons in the basolateral amygdala is mediated solely by alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptors. In contrast to AMPA receptors at inputs to pyramidal neurons, these receptors have an inwardly rectifying current-voltage relationship, indicative of a high permeability to calcium. Tetanic stimulation of inputs to interneurons caused an immediate and sustained increase in the efficacy of these synapses. This potentiation required a rise in postsynaptic calcium, but was independent of NMDA receptor activation. The potentiation of excitatory inputs to interneurons was reflected as an increase in the amplitude of the GABA(A)-mediated inhibitory synaptic current in pyramidal neurons. These results demonstrate that excitatory synapses onto interneurons within a fear conditioning circuit show NMDA-receptor independent long-term potentiation. This plasticity might underlie the increased synchronization of activity between neurons in the basolateral amygdala after fear conditioning.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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