The reduced release probability of releasable vesicles during recovery from short-term synaptic depression

Neuron. 1999 Aug;23(4):821-32. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(01)80039-8.


Recovery from synaptic depression is believed to depend mainly on replenishment of the releasable pool of vesicles. We observed that during recovery from depression in a calyx-type synapse, part of the releasable pool was replenished rapidly. Half recovery occurred within 1 s, even in the absence of residual calcium. Vesicles that had recently entered the releasable pool had a 7- to 8-fold lower release probability than those that had been in the pool for more than 30 s. These results suggest that the reduction in the release probability of releasable vesicles contributes greatly to the level of depression. How synapses maintain transmission during repetitive firing is in debate. We propose that during repetitive firing, accumulation of intracellular Ca2+ may facilitate release of the rapidly replenished but reluctant vesicles, making them available for sustaining synaptic transmission.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Brain Stem / physiology
  • Calcium / physiology
  • Calcium Channels / physiology
  • Electrophysiology
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Synapses / metabolism
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • Synaptic Vesicles / metabolism
  • Synaptic Vesicles / physiology*


  • Calcium Channels
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Calcium