PloS one

Synergistic activation of dopamine D1 and TrkB receptors mediate gain control of synaptic plasticity in the basolateral amygdala.

PMID 22022509


Fear memory formation is thought to require dopamine, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and zinc release in the basolateral amygdala (BLA), as well as the induction of long term potentiation (LTP) in BLA principal neurons. However, no study to date has shown any relationship between these processes in the BLA. Here, we have used in vitro whole-cell patch clamp recording from BLA principal neurons to investigate how dopamine, BDNF, and zinc release may interact to modulate the LTP induction in the BLA. LTP was induced by either theta burst stimulation (TBS) protocol or spaced 5 times high frequency stimulation (5xHFS). Significantly, both TBS and 5xHFS induced LTP was fully blocked by the dopamine D1 receptor antagonist, SCH23390. LTP induction was also blocked by the BDNF scavenger, TrkB-FC, the zinc chelator, DETC, as well as by an inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), gallardin. Conversely, prior application of the dopamine reuptake inhibitor, GBR12783, or the D1 receptor agonist, SKF39393, induced robust and stable LTP in response to a sub-threshold HFS protocol (2xHFS), which does not normally induce LTP. Similarly, prior activation of TrkB receptors with either a TrkB receptor agonist, or BDNF, also reduced the threshold for LTP-induction, an effect that was blocked by the MEK inhibitor, but not by zinc chelation. Intriguingly, the TrkB receptor agonist-induced reduction of LTP threshold was fully blocked by prior application of SCH23390, and the reduction of LTP threshold induced by GBR12783 was blocked by prior application of TrkB-FC. Together, our results suggest a cellular mechanism whereby the threshold for LTP induction in BLA principal neurons is critically dependent on the level of dopamine in the extracellular milieu and the synergistic activation of postsynaptic D1 and TrkB receptors. Moreover, activation of TrkB receptors appears to be dependent on concurrent release of zinc and activation of MMPs.