Trk B signalling controls LTP but not LTD expression in the developing rat visual cortex


: Dr L. Domenici, International School for Advanced Studies, Neuroscience Programme, Via Beirut 2-4, 34014 Trieste, Italy.


Neurotrophins have been suggested to act as liaison molecules between activity-dependent synaptic plasticity and the establishment of patterns of synaptic connectivity during postnatal developmental in different brain areas, including the visual cortex. In particular, recent studies have shown that Trk B ligands are involved in the formation of the ocular dominance columns during postnatal development. Here, we examined the contribution of endogenous Trk B activation to the regulation of different forms of synaptic plasticity including long-term potentiation (LTP), long-term depression (LTD) and LTP after LTD in the developing visual cortex. Rat cortical slices were incubated with a soluble form of Trk B receptor (TrkB IgG) preventing Trk B activation by endogenous ligands. LTP expression was also studied at P23 (postnatal), when the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) reaches a peak and the LTP expression is normally downregulated. The present results demonstrate that Trk B activation is required for the long-term maintenance, > 30 min, of both LTP and LTP after LTD at P17. At P23, a higher concentration of TrkB IgG was necessary to impair LTP. In contrast, neither amplitude nor duration of LTD were affected by Trk B ligands blockade. Taken together, these results indicate that endogenous Trk B ligands are necessary for the expression of LTP but not LTD at a critical time during postnatal cortical development.