Glutamate iontophoresis induces long-term potentiation in the absence of evoked presynaptic activity

Robert Joseph Cormier, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


$\rm\underline{L}$ong-$\rm\underline{t}$erm $\rm\underline{p}$otentiation (LTP) is a candidate cellular mechanism underlying mammalian learning and memory. Protocols that induce LTP typically involve afferent stimulation. The experiments described in this dissertation tested the hypothesis that LTP induction does not require presynaptic activity. The significance of this hypothesis is underscored by results suggesting that LTP expression may involve activity-dependent presynaptic changes. An induction protocol using glutamate iontophoresis was developed that reliably induces LTP in hippocampal slices without afferent stimulation (ionto-LTP). Ionto-LTP is induced when excitatory postsynaptic potentials are completely blocked with adenosine and $\rm\underline{t}$etrodo$\rm\underline{t}$o$\rm\underline{x}$in (TTX). These results suggest constraints on the involvement of presynaptic mechanisms and putative retrograde messengers in LTP induction and expression; namely, these processes must function without many forms of activity-dependent presynaptic processes. In testing the role of pre-and postsynaptic mechanisms in LTP expression whole-cell recordings were used to examine the frequency and amplitude of $\rm\underline{s}$pontaneous $\rm\underline{e}$xcitatory $\rm\underline{p}$o$\rm\underline{s}$ynaptic $\rm\underline{c}$urrents (sEPSCs) in CA1 pyramidal neurons. sEPSCs where comprised of an equal mixture of TTX insensitive miniature EPSCs and sEPSCs that appeared to result from spontaneous action potentials (i.e., TTX sensitive EPSCs). The detection of all sEPSCs was virtually eliminated by CNQX, suggesting that sEPSCs were glutamate mediated synaptic events. Changes in the amplitude and frequency sEPSCs were examined during the expression of ionto-LTP to obtain new information about the cellular location of mechanisms involved in synaptic plasticity. The findings of this dissertation show that ionto-LTP expression results from increased sEPSC amplitude in the absence of lasting increases in sEPSC frequency. Potentiation of sEPSC amplitude without changes in sEPSC frequency has been previously interpreted to be due to postsynaptic mechanisms. Although this interpretation is supported by findings from peripheral synapses, its application to the central nervous system is unclear. Therefore, alternative mechanisms are also considered in this dissertation. Models based on increased release probability for action potential dependent transmitter release appear insufficient to explain our results. The most straightforward interpretation of the results in this dissertation is that LTP induced by glutamate iontophoresis on dendrites of CA1 pyramidal neurons is mediated by postsynaptic mechanisms.

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Recommended Citation

Cormier, Robert Joseph, "Glutamate iontophoresis induces long-term potentiation in the absence of evoked presynaptic activity" (1995). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9610010.