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J Neurophysiol. 1997 Sep;78(3):1735-9.

Differential impact of miniature synaptic potentials on the soma and dendrites of pyramidal neurons in vivo.

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Département de Physiologie, Faculté de Médecine, Université Laval, Quebec, Canada.


We studied the impact of transmitter release resistant to tetrodotoxin (TTX) in morphologically identified neocortical pyramidal neurons recorded intracellularly in barbiturate-anesthetized cats. It was observed that TTX-resistant release occurs in pyramidal neurons in vivo and at much higher frequencies than was previously reported in vitro. Further, in agreement with previous findings indicating that GABAergic and glutamatergic synapses are differentially distributed in the somata and dendrites of pyramidal cells, we found that most miniature synaptic potentials were sensitive to gamma-aminobutyric acid-A (GABA(A)) or alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) antagonists in presumed somatic and dendritic impalements, respectively. Pharmacological blockage of spontaneous synaptic events produced large increases in input resistance that were more important in dendritic (approximately 50%) than somatic (approximately 10%) impalements. These findings imply that in the intact brain, pyramidal neurons are submitted to an intense spike-independent synaptic bombardment that decreases the space constant of the cells. These results should be taken into account when extrapolating in vitro findings to intact brains.

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