Postsynaptic Currents and Short-term Synaptic Plasticity in Purkinje Cells Grafted onto an Uninjured Adult Cerebellar Cortex


Filippo Tempia, as above


It has been shown recently that embryonic Purkinje cells grafted extraparenchymally into an intact cerebellum, in the absence of any sign of damage, are able to migrate into the host molecular layer where they receive a climbing fibre innervation. Using the same technique, we investigated the development of the electrophysiological properties of the synapses between the grafted cells and their main afferents. Purkinje cells either in the graft or having migrated into the molecular layer of the host were recorded using the whole-cell patch-clamp method in acutely prepared slices 17–112 days after grafting. Spontaneous postsynaptic currents with a single-exponential decay and mediated by GABAA receptors were very similar to those described in normal Purkinje cells. Excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) evoked by climbing fibre and by parallel fibre stimulation were blocked by an α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionic acid (AMPA)/kainate antagonist, and displayed the linear current-voltage relation typical of postnatal Purkinje cells. The attainment of normal functional properties by the adult axons at the newly formed synaptic sites was shown by the expression of short-term facilitation of parallel fibre EPSCs and of short-term depression of climbing fibre EPSCs. The grafted Purkinje cells showed climbing fibre polyinnervation 17-20 days after grafting which evolved to monoinnervation at 23-45 days, confirming the completion of the developmental programme up to maturation. Our experiments support the view that the adult intact brain is able to accept and integrate an additional number of neurons which show fully mature electrophysiological properties which are electrophysiologically indistinguishable from those of the host neurons.