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YEAR : 1995

Physiology and pharmacology of unitary synaptic connections between pairs of cells in areas CA3 and CA1 of rat hippocampal slice cultures.

AUTHORS : Debanne D, Guérineau NC, Gähwiler BH, Thompson SM.

JOURNAL : Journal of Neurophysiology
1. Paired intracellular recordings were made in rat hippocampal slice cultures, with the use of either sharp microelectrodes or the whole cell configuration of the patch-clamp technique. Unitary synaptic connections were studied between pyramidal and nonpyramidal cells within and between areas CA1 and CA3. 2. Monosynaptic excitatory synaptic responses between CA3 pyramidal neurons were found in 56% of cell pairs (n = 91, 28 postsynaptic cells). Monosynaptic connections from a CA3 cell to a CA1 cell were observed in 76% of cell pairs (n = 125, 26 postsynaptic cells), but from CA1 to CA3 neurons in only 8% of cell pairs (n = 13, 13 postsynaptic cells). Monosynaptic excitatory connections were found in only 16% of CA1/CA1 cell pairs (n = 25, 10 postsynaptic cells). 3. Disynaptic inhibition was commonly observed between CA3 cell pairs (43%), but rarely found between CA3-CA1 pyramidal cell pairs (2%). In 50% of CA3 pyramidal cell pairs, synchronous inhibitory postsynaptic potentials (IPSPs) in both cells could be triggered by an action potential in one pyramidal cell. Reciprocal monosynaptic connections were found between 75% of interneuron and pyramidal cell pairs within area CA3. 4. The latency of monosynaptic CA3- to CA1-cell responses was significantly longer than for responses between two CA3 cells. Within area CA3 the latencies for inhibitory synaptic responses between interneurons and pyramidal cells were significantly shorter than those for excitatory responses between pyramidal cells. Monosynaptic excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) in interneurons had a significantly shorter time-to-peak than those recorded in pyramidal neurons. 5. 6-Cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (CNQX)- and D-2-amino-5-phosphonovalerate (AP5)-sensitive components were identified in unitary monosynaptic EPSPs in CA3-CA3 and CA3-CA1 pyramidal cell pairs. The CNQX-sensitive component had a mean time-to-peak and duration of 6.2 +/- 0.3 (SE) ms and 61.2 +/- 2.0 ms, respectively, and an amplitude of approximately 1 mV (n = 93). The AP5-sensitive component of EPSPs was only detected when the cell was depolarized with respect to the resting potential, had a mean time-to-peak of 41 +/- 5 ms and duration of 121 +/- 11 ms (n = 6), and increased in amplitude with postsynaptic depolarization. 6. Unitary monosynaptic IPSPs between an interneuron and a pyramidal cell had a mean amplitude of approximately 1 mV and were fully blocked by gamma-aminobutyric acid-A (GABAA) receptor antagonists (n = 3). 7. Unitary inhibitory responses were found only within, but not between, areas CA3 or CA1.