GABA spillover activates postsynaptic GABA(B) receptors to control rhythmic hippocampal activity

Neuron. 2000 Mar;25(3):673-81. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(00)81069-7.


In the hippocampus, interneurons provide synaptic inhibition via the transmitter GABA, which can activate GABA(A) and GABA(B) receptors (GABA(A)Rs and GABA(B)Rs). Generally, however, GABA released by a single interneuron activates only GABA(A)Rs on its targets, despite the abundance of GABA(B)RS. Here, I show that during hippocampal rhythmic activity, simultaneous release of GABA from several interneurons activates postsynaptic GABA(B)Rs and that block of GABA(B)Rs increases oscillation frequency. Furthermore, if GABA uptake is inhibited, even GABA released by a single interneuron is enough to activate GABA(B)Rs. This occurs also on cells not directly contacted by that interneuron, indicating that GABA has to overcome uptake and exit the synaptic cleft to reach GABA(B)RS. Thus, activation of extrasynaptic GABA(B)Rs by pooling of GABA is an important mechanism regulating hippocampal network activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Hippocampus / chemistry*
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Interneurons / chemistry
  • Interneurons / physiology
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Periodicity*
  • Pyramidal Cells / chemistry
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology
  • Rats
  • Receptors, GABA-B / physiology*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / physiology*


  • Receptors, GABA-B
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid