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Cereb Cortex. 2019 Feb 1;29(2):892-905. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhy297.

Early Loss of Vision Results in Extensive Reorganization of Plasticity-Related Receptors and Alterations in Hippocampal Function That Extend Through Adulthood.

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Department of Neurophysiology, Medical Faculty, Ruhr University Bochum, Bochum, Germany.
International Graduate School of Neuroscience, Ruhr University Bochum, Bochum, Germany.


Although by adulthood cortical structures and their capacity for processing sensory information have become established and stabilized, under conditions of cortical injury, or sensory deprivation, rapid reorganization occurs. Little is known as to the impact of this kind of adaptation on cellular processes related to memory encoding. However, imaging studies in humans suggest that following loss or impairment of a sensory modality, not only cortical but also subcortical structures begin to reorganize. It is likely that these processes are supported by neurotransmitter receptors that enable synaptic and cortical plasticity. Here, we explored to what extent the expression of plasticity-related proteins (GABA-A, GABA-B, GluN1, GluN2A, GluN2B) is altered following early vision loss, and whether this impacts on hippocampal function. We observed that in the period of 2-4 months postnatally in CBA/J-mice that experience hereditary postnatal retinal degeneration, systematic changes of GABA-receptor and NMDA-receptor subunit expression occurred that emerged first in the hippocampus and developed later in the cortex, compared to control mice that had normal vision. Changes were accompanied by significant impairments in hippocampal long-term potentiation and hippocampus-dependent learning. These data indicate that during cortical adaptation to early loss of vision, hippocampal information processing is compromised, and this status impacts on the acquisition of spatial representations.

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