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Blockade of M2-like muscarinic receptors enhances long-term potentiation at corticostriatal synapses


Paolo Calabresi, as above. E-mail:


Acetylcholine (ACh) exerts a crucial role in learning and memory. The striatum contains the highest concentration of this transmitter in the brain. This structure expresses two different forms of synaptic plasticity, long-term depression (LTD) and long-term potentiation (LTP), which might contribute to the storage of motor skills and some cognitive processes. We have investigated the role of M2-like muscarinic receptors in striatal LTP by utilizing intracellular recordings in vitro from a rat corticostriatal slice preparation. Methoctramine (250 nm), an antagonist of M2-like muscarinic receptors, enhanced striatal LTP induced in the absence of external magnesium (Mg2+) by high-frequency stimulation (HFS) of corticostriatal fibres. Methoctramine did not affect the amplitude of excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) when bath applied either before or after the conditioning tetanus suggesting that a critical increase of ACh concentrations is produced only during HFS. Methoctramine per se failed to enhance the NMDA-mediated EPSPs recorded in the absence of external Mg2+ and in the presence of 10 μm CNQX. Methoctramine antagonized the presynaptic inhibitory action of neostigmine, an inhibitor of ACh-esterase, and oxotremorine, an agonist of M2-like muscarinic receptors. These data indicate that the activation of M2-like muscarinic receptors exerts a negative influence on striatal LTP, probably by reducing the release of glutamate from corticostriatal fibres and they suggest a complex modulatory effect of ACh in striatal synaptic plasticity.