• hippocampus;
  • slices;
  • electrophysiology;
  • rat;
  • memory


Nitric oxide production in the cerebellum and induction of long-term potentiation (LTP) in the hippocampus have some characteristics in common: both phenomena are induced by activation of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors and both are highly dependent on calcium-mediated processes. Here we provide evidence that endogenous nitric oxide production is necessary for synaptic plasticity in the CA1 hippocampus of the rat. LTP recorded in slices was blocked in a concentration-dependent manner by the nitric oxide synthase inhibitors L-NG-nitroarginine and L-NG-nitroarginine methyl ester, but L-NG-monomethylarginine was only marginally active. Bathing the slices with haemoglobin, a protein that scavenges nitric oxide, also resulted in a concentration-dependent blockade of LTP. Nitric oxide released locally from hydroxylamine produced a stable potentiation of synaptic transmission that was not additive with LTP induced by high-frequency stimulation. These results are fully consistent with the presumed retrograde messenger role of nitric oxide in LTP.