• hippocampal slice;
  • interneuron;
  • neuronal circuitry;
  • mEPSC;
  • dentate gyrus


To characterize excitatory inputs to dentate basket cells from dentate granule cells and the perforant path, the whole-cell recording technique was used in neonatal rat hippocampal slices. Spontaneous excitatory input to basket cells was also examined and compared to that of other interneurons in the dentate gyrus. Basket cells were separable from other neurons in the dentate gyrus based on morphology and location, as determined by biocytin staining following recording, and by resting membrane potential, propensity to fire action potentials spontaneously, and miniature excitatory postsynaptic current (EPSC) characteristics. Minimal electrical stimulation of the granule cell layer evoked in basket cells short latency EPSCs that were composed of both N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) and α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionate (AMPA) components as judged by their time course, voltage dependence, and blockade by selective antagonists. Perforant path EPSCs exhibited slower kinetics than EPSCs evoked by granule cell stimulation. Like granule cell evoked EPSCs, however, perforant path EPSCs were composed of both NMDA and AMPA components. Minimal electrical stimulation of the granule cell layer and perforant path evoked monosynaptic EPSCs in only 67% and 62% of the trials, respectively, suggesting that these inputs are as unreliable as previously determined inputs from CA3 pyramidal cells (48%).

Tetrodotoxin-insensitive spontaneous miniature EPSCs were frequent in basket cells and non-basket interneurons residing either at the border between the granule cell layer and the hilus or deep within the hilus. Miniature EPSCs recorded from all cells held at −70 mV were blocked completely by 3 μSM 6-cyano-7-nitro-quinoxaline-2,3-dione (CNQX). Though a component of the miniature EPSCs recorded from border and deep hilar interneurons at +40 mV was blocked by the NMDA receptor antagonist D-2-amino-phosphonovaleric acid (D-APV), miniature EPSCs in basket cells were insensitive to D-APV.

We conclude that input from granule cells and the perforant path results in activation of basket cells via glutamatergic synapses that employ both NMDA and AMPA receptors. These inputs to basket cells likely contribute to feedback and feedforward inhibition of granule cells. The absence of an NMDA receptor component in spontaneous miniature EPSCs of dentate basket cells implies a difference in organization of excitatory synapses made onto basket cells compared with other hilar interneurons. © 1995 Wiley-Liss, Inc.