Synapses between parallel fibres and stellate cells express long-term changes in synaptic efficacy in rat cerebellum

J Physiol. 2004 Feb 1;554(Pt 3):707-20. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2003.055871. Epub 2003 Nov 14.


Various forms of synaptic plasticity underlying motor learning have already been well characterized at cerebellar parallel fibre (PF)-Purkinje cell (PC) synapses. Inhibitory interneurones play an important role in controlling the excitability and synchronization of PCs. We have therefore tested the possibility that excitatory synapses between PFs and stellate cells (SCs) are also able to exhibit long-term changes in synaptic efficacy. In the present study, we show that long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD) were induced at these synapses by a low frequency stimulation protocol (2 Hz for 60 s) and that pairing this low frequency stimulation protocol with postsynaptic depolarization induced a marked shift of synaptic plasticity in favour of LTP. This LTP was cAMP independent, but required nitric oxide (NO) production from pre- and/or postsynaptic elements, depending on the stimulation or pairing protocol used, respectively. In contrast, LTD was not dependent on NO production but it required activation of postsynaptic group II and possibly of group I metabotropic glutamate receptors. Finally, stimulation of PFs at 8 Hz for 15 s also induced LTP at PF-SC synapses. But in this case, LTP was cAMP dependent, as was also observed at PF-PC synapses for presynaptic LTP induced in the same conditions. Thus, long-term changes in synaptic efficacy can be accomplished by PF-SCs synapses as well as by PF-PC synapses, suggesting that both types of plasticity might co-operate during cerebellar motor learning.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cerebellum / cytology*
  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • Chelating Agents / pharmacology
  • Egtazic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Egtazic Acid / pharmacology
  • Electric Stimulation / methods
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists / pharmacology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Long-Term Potentiation / physiology
  • Long-Term Synaptic Depression / physiology
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / metabolism
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Time Factors


  • Chelating Agents
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Egtazic Acid
  • 1,2-bis(2-aminophenoxy)ethane-N,N,N',N'-tetraacetic acid
  • Calcium