Visualization of changes in presynaptic function during long-term synaptic plasticity

Nat Neurosci. 2001 Jul;4(7):711-7. doi: 10.1038/89498.


Controversy exists regarding the site of modification of synaptic transmission during long-term plasticity in the mammalian hippocampus. Here we used a fluorescent marker of presynaptic activity, FM 1-43, to directly image changes in presynaptic function during both short-term and long-term forms of plasticity at presynaptic boutons of CA3-CA1 excitatory synapses in acute hippocampal slices. We demonstrated enhanced presynaptic function during long-term potentiation (LTP) induced either chemically (with tetraethylammonium), or by high-frequency (200-Hz) electrical stimulation. Both of these forms of LTP required activation of L-type voltage-gated calcium channels and NMDA receptors in the postsynaptic CA1 neuron. These results thus implied that a long-lasting increase in the efficacy of synaptic transmission is likely to depend, at least in part, on enhanced transmitter release from the presynaptic neuron.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Hippocampus / ultrastructure
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Long-Term Potentiation
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Neuronal Plasticity*
  • Presynaptic Terminals / physiology*
  • Pyridinium Compounds
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds


  • FM1 43
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Pyridinium Compounds
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds