The multifarious hippocampal mossy fiber pathway: a review

Neuroscience. 2000;98(3):407-27. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4522(00)00146-9.


The hippocampal mossy fiber pathway between the granule cells of the dentate gyrus and the pyramidal cells of area CA3 has been the target of numerous scientific studies. Initially, attention was focused on the mossy fiber to CA3 pyramidal cell synapse because it was suggested to be a model synapse for studying the basic properties of synaptic transmission in the CNS. However, the accumulated body of research suggests that the mossy fiber synapse is rather unique in that it has many distinct features not usually observed in cortical synapses. In this review, we have attempted to summarize the many unique features of this hippocampal pathway. We also have attempted to reconcile some discrepancies that exist in the literature concerning the pharmacology, physiology and plasticity of this pathway. In addition we also point out some of the experimental challenges that make electrophysiological study of this pathway so difficult.Finally, we suggest that understanding the functional role of the hippocampal mossy fiber pathway may lie in an appreciation of its variety of unique properties that make it a strong yet broadly modulated synaptic input to postsynaptic targets in the hilus of the dentate gyrus and area CA3 of the hippocampal formation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Mossy Fibers, Hippocampal / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / cytology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Pyramidal Cells / cytology*
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology