Electrical synapses between GABA-releasing interneurons

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2001 Jun;2(6):425-33. doi: 10.1038/35077566.


Although gap junctions were first demonstrated in the mammalian brain about 30 years ago, the distribution and role of electrical synapses have remained elusive. A series of recent reports has demonstrated that inhibitory interneurons in the cerebral cortex, thalamus, striatum and cerebellum are extensively interconnected by electrical synapses. Investigators have used paired recordings to reveal directly the presence of electrical synapses among identified cell types. These studies indicate that electrical coupling is a fundamental feature of local inhibitory circuits and suggest that electrical synapses define functionally diverse networks of GABA-releasing interneurons. Here, we discuss these results, their possible functional significance and the insights into neuronal circuit organization that have emerged from them.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain / ultrastructure
  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Gap Junctions / physiology*
  • Gap Junctions / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Interneurons / ultrastructure
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synapses / ultrastructure
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism*


  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid