Neuregulin1 downregulates postsynaptic GABAA receptors at the hippocampal inhibitory synapse

Hippocampus. 2004;14(3):337-44. doi: 10.1002/hipo.10185.


The growth factor neuregulin 1 (NRG1) has been proposed to contribute to the formation and maturation of neuromuscular and interneuronal synapses by upregulating the expression of specific neurotransmitter receptor subunits. In the present report, we show that, in the hippocampus, NRG1 is expressed in a pattern suggesting that it regulates synapse development in the CA1 region. However, in contrast to what has been shown in other synapses, NRG1 reduces the expression of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)A receptors alpha subunits in hippocampal slices, and the mean amplitude of GABAergic miniature inhibitory postsynaptic currents (IPSCs) in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons, without affecting IPSC kinetics or frequency. These effects of NRG1 occur without concomitant changes in glutamate receptors and other synaptic proteins. We propose that the role of NRG1 in the formation and maturation in the hippocampal inhibitory synapse is downregulation, rather than upregulation, of receptor subunit expression. These results suggest that NRG1 may contribute to the reduction in GABAergic synaptic activity in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons that normally occurs during early postnatal development, and that alterations in NRG1 signaling in the hippocampus may contribute to schizophrenia and epilepsy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Down-Regulation / genetics*
  • ErbB Receptors / genetics
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Neural Inhibition / genetics*
  • Neuregulin-1 / metabolism*
  • Protein Subunits / genetics
  • Pyramidal Cells / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptor, ErbB-4
  • Receptors, GABA-A / genetics*
  • Receptors, GABA-A / metabolism
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / genetics
  • Synapses / metabolism*
  • Synaptic Membranes / metabolism
  • Synaptic Transmission / genetics


  • Neuregulin-1
  • Protein Subunits
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Erbb4 protein, rat
  • Receptor, ErbB-4