• CA1 pyramidal neurons;
  • glutamatergic neurotransmission;
  • muscarinic receptors;
  • oriens/alveus stimulation;
  • rat hippocampus


It has been known for decades that muscarinic agonists presynaptically inhibit Schaffer collateral synapses contacting hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons. However, a demonstration of the inhibition of Schaffer collateral synapses induced by acetylcholine released by cholinergic hippocampal afferents is lacking. We present original results showing that electrical stimulation at the stratum oriens/alveus with brief stimulus trains inhibited excitatory postsynaptic currents evoked by stimulation of Schaffer collaterals in CA1 pyramidal neurons of rat hippocampal slices. The increased paired-pulse facilitation and the changes in the variance of excitatory postsynaptic current amplitude that paralleled the inhibition suggest that it was mediated presynaptically. The effects of oriens/alveus stimulation were inhibited by atropine, and blocking nicotinic receptors with methyllycaconitine was ineffective, suggesting that the inhibition was mediated via the activation of presynaptic muscarinic receptors. The results provide a novel demonstration of the presynaptic inhibition of glutamatergic neurotransmission by cholinergic fibres in the hippocampus, implying that afferent cholinergic fibres regulate the strength of excitatory synaptic transmission.