Activity- and age-dependent GABAergic synaptic plasticity in the developing rat hippocampus

Authors

  • Paolo Gubellini,

    1. Institut de Neurobiologie de la Mediterranée (INMED), Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) Unité 29, Avenue de Luminy, BP 13, 13273 Marseille, Cedex 09, France
    2. Istituto di Neurobiologia e Medicina Molecolare, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR), Viale Marx 15, 00137, Roma, Italy
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  • Yehezkel Ben-Ari,

    1. Institut de Neurobiologie de la Mediterranée (INMED), Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) Unité 29, Avenue de Luminy, BP 13, 13273 Marseille, Cedex 09, France
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  • Jean-Luc Gaïarsa

    1. Institut de Neurobiologie de la Mediterranée (INMED), Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) Unité 29, Avenue de Luminy, BP 13, 13273 Marseille, Cedex 09, France
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: Dr Jean-Luc Gaïarsa, as above.
E-mail: gaiarsa@inmed.University-mrs.fr

Abstract

Activity-dependent plasticity of GABAergic synaptic transmission was investigated in rat hippocampal slices obtained between postnatal day (P) 0–15 using the whole-cell patch-clamp recording technique. Spontaneous GABAA receptor-mediated postsynaptic currents (sGABAA-PSCs) were isolated in the presence of ionotropic glutamate receptor antagonists. A conditioning protocol relevant to the physiological condition, consisting of repetitive depolarizing pulses (DPs) at 0.1 Hz, was able to induce long-lasting changes in both frequency and amplitude of sGABAA-PSCs between P0 and P8. Starting from P12, DPs were unable to induce any form of synaptic plasticity. The effects of DPs were tightly keyed to the frequency at which they were delivered. When delivered at a lower (0.05 Hz) or higher (1 Hz) frequency, DPs failed to induce any long-lasting change in the frequency or amplitude of sGABAA-PSCs. In two cases, DPs were able to activate sGABAA-PSCs in previously synaptically silent cells at P0–1. These results show that long-term changes in GABAergic synaptic activity can be induced during a restricted period of development by a conditioning protocol relevant to the physiological condition. It is suggested that such activity-induced modifications may represent a physiological mechanism for the functional maturation of GABAergic synaptic transmission.

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