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Keywords:

  • adolescence;
  • interneurons;
  • ventral hippocampus;
  • parvalbumin;
  • calretinin

ABSTRACT

Animal studies have highlighted the role of the ventral hippocampus-prefrontal cortex pathway in the acquisition of mature cortical function through refinement of GABAergic circuits during adolescence. Inhibitory GABAergic responses are mediated by highly specialized interneurons, which have distinct functional properties and are characterized by the expression of calcium binding proteins. Among these, we recently found that parvalbumin (PV)- and calretinin (CR)-positive interneurons in the prefrontal cortex follow opposite developmental trajectories during the periadolescent transition period. In the present study, we asked whether interneurons expressing PV and CR in the ventral hippocampus follow similar periadolescent trajectories as seen in the prefrontal cortex. By measuring the relative abundance of these interneurons in three age groups (postnatal days (PD) 25–40, 45–55, and 60–85), we found that regions within the dorso-ventral axis of the ventral hippocampus undergo distinct developmental trajectories in PV expression during the periadolescent transition. Specifically, the ventral subiculum displayed a dramatic increase in PV-positive interneurons from PD25–40 to PD45–55 with an increasing rostro-caudal gradient, whereas negligible changes were found in the dorsal and middle regions. In contrast, the number of CR-positive interneurons in the ventral hippocampus remained unchanged across the three age groups studied. Together, these results describe for the first time that GABAergic circuits in the ventral hippocampus undergo protracted development during adolescence, in particular the PV-positive cell population circumscribed to the ventral region of the ventral hippocampus. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.