Multiple forms of synaptic plasticity triggered by selective suppression of activity in individual neurons

Nature. 2002 Nov 28;420(6914):414-8. doi: 10.1038/nature01242.


The rules by which neuronal activity causes long-term modification of synapses in the central nervous system are not fully understood. Whereas competitive or correlation-based rules result in local modification of synapses, homeostatic modifications allow neuron-wide changes in synaptic strength, promoting stability. Experimental investigations of these rules at central nervous system synapses have relied generally on manipulating activity in populations of neurons. Here, we investigated the effect of suppressing excitability in single neurons within a network of active hippocampal neurons by overexpressing an inward-rectifier potassium channel. Reducing activity in a neuron before synapse formation leads to a reduction in functional synaptic inputs to that neuron; no such reduction was observed when activity of all neurons was uniformly suppressed. In contrast, suppressing activity in a single neuron after synapses are established results in a homeostatic increase in synaptic input, which restores the activity of the neuron to control levels. Our results highlight the differences between global and selective suppression of activity, as well as those between early and late manipulation of activity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / drug effects
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Neural Inhibition* / drug effects
  • Neuronal Plasticity*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying / genetics
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying / metabolism
  • Synapses / drug effects
  • Synapses / metabolism
  • Tetrodotoxin / pharmacology


  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying
  • Tetrodotoxin