Opposite changes in synaptic activity of organotypic rat spinal cord cultures after chronic block of AMPA/kainate or glycine and GABAA receptors

Authors

  • Micaela Galante,

    Corresponding author
    1. Biophysics Sector and Istituto Nazionale di Fisica della Materia Unit, International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA), via Beirut 4, 34014 Trieste, Italy
    • Corresponding author
      M. Galante: SISSA, Via Beirut 4, 34014 Trieste, Italy. Email: galante@sissa.it

    Search for more papers by this author
  • Andrea Nistri,

    1. Biophysics Sector and Istituto Nazionale di Fisica della Materia Unit, International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA), via Beirut 4, 34014 Trieste, Italy
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Laura Ballerini

    1. Biophysics Sector and Istituto Nazionale di Fisica della Materia Unit, International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA), via Beirut 4, 34014 Trieste, Italy
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

  • 1The well-developed cytoarchitecture of rat organotypic spinal cord culture makes it a suitable model to explore how persistent suppression of certain synaptic inputs might be compensated by increased synaptic efficacy (homeostatic plasticity).
  • 2Spontaneous or electrically evoked synaptic transmission of patch-clamped ventral horn interneurons was studied in control solution after blocking, for the second week in culture, AMPA/kainate receptors with CNQX or glycine and GABAA receptors with strychnine and bicuculline, or indiscriminately removing inputs with tetrodotoxin (TTX).
  • 3In untreated cells, spontaneous postsynaptic currents (PSCs) had fast (τ < 5 ms) or slow (τ > 10 ms) decay. A similar separation was observed when recording miniature currents (mPSCs). Slow decay PSCs were suppressed by strychnine plus bicuculline while fast decay events were eliminated by CNQX.
  • 4After chronic CNQX treatment the frequency of spontaneous, fast PSCs (of larger amplitude) or mPSCs was almost doubled with respect to control. These events were blocked by acutely applied CNQX, which unmasked slow PSCs.
  • 5After chronic TTX treatment neither the frequency nor the amplitude of spontaneous events was changed.
  • 6After chronic strychnine and bicuculline treatment the frequency and amplitude of all PSCs was decreased in most cells. mPSCs were also decreased in frequency. Spontaneous or electrically evoked currents acquired a larger component mediated by NMDA receptor activity.
  • 7The developing spinal network thus operated distinct homeostatic processes which led to strong enhancement in glutamatergic transmission after CNQX block or to broad downregulation of synaptic activity following chronic exposure to strychnine and bicuculline.

Ancillary