Neuroscience research

NMDA receptor-mediated depolarizing after-potentials in the basal dendrites of CA1 pyramidal neurons.

PMID 15154678


It was shown recently that the basal dendrites of cortical pyramidal neurons generate NMDA-spikes. In the present study, we made whole-cell recordings from hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons and examined whether NMDA receptor activation was involved in synaptic responses. At low input stimulus intensity, EPSPs with a fast decay time were induced. As the intensity of stimulation was increased in the presence of GABA receptor antagonists, a depolarizing after-potential (DAP) was generated in addition to a fast decaying potential. A DAP was never observed when the input was applied to the apical dendrites. The DAP was suppressed by hyperpolarization or by NMDA receptor antagonists, but not by Na+, K+, or Ca2+ channel blockers. One possible mechanism is that the morphology of the basal dendrites favors DAP generation. A compartmental model simulation showed that synaptic inputs to thinner shorter dendrites generated a potential that resembled a DAP. Our study shows that a synaptic input to the basal dendrites of a hippocampal pyramidal neuron can generate a NMDA receptor-mediated potential in the presence of GABA receptor blockade.

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(±)-Methoxyverapamil hydrochloride, ≥98%
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