Spontaneous GABAergic postsynaptic currents in Cajal-Retzius cells in neonatal rat cerebral cortex

Eur J Neurosci. 2001 Apr;13(7):1387-90. doi: 10.1046/j.0953-816x.2001.01514.x.


Cajal-Retzius cells are among the first neurons appearing during corticogenesis, and play an important role in the establishment of cortical lamination. The variety of neurotransmitter receptors recently found on these cells imply that they are integrated in the neonatal cortical network. To investigate the presence and properties of spontaneous synaptic activity we performed whole-cell patch-clamp recordings from visually identified and biocytin-labelled Cajal-Retzius cells in a tangential slice preparation of neonatal rat cerebral cortex (postnatal days P0-P5). Spontaneous postsynaptic currents (sPSCs) could be observed in about 23% of the cells using a pipette solution containing 136 m M Cl-. The sPSCs occurred at a low frequency (0.07 +/- 0.07 Hz, n = 42 cells), had an average amplitude of 24.3 +/- 12.4 pA (n = 415 events) and could not be divided in subpopulations according to their amplitude distribution or kinetic properties. The sPSCs were blocked by the GABAA antagonist bicuculline (100 microM), while the glutamatergic antagonists (+/-)-2-amino-5-phosphonopentatonic acid (APV, 30 microM) and 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (CNQX, 10 microM), as well as tetrodotoxin (1-2 microM), a blocker of voltage-gated sodium-currents, had no significant effect on sPSCs. The incidence rate of sPSCs declined within the age of the rats and no sPSCs could be observed after P4. These results suggest that Cajal-Retzius cells transiently receive action potential-independent and GABA(A) receptor-mediated spontaneous synaptic input, which may contribute to the refinement of cortical circuits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 2-Amino-5-phosphonovalerate / pharmacology
  • 6-Cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione / pharmacology
  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Bicuculline / pharmacology
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / growth & development*
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology*
  • GABA Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Rats
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • Tetrodotoxin / pharmacology
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / physiology*


  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists
  • GABA Antagonists
  • Tetrodotoxin
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • 6-Cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione
  • 2-Amino-5-phosphonovalerate
  • Bicuculline