Properties of external plexiform layer interneurons in mouse olfactory bulb slices

Neuroscience. 2005;133(3):819-29. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2005.03.008.


In the external plexiform layer (EPL) of the main olfactory bulb, apical dendrites of inhibitory granule cells form large numbers of synapses with mitral and tufted (M/T) cells, which regulate the spread of activity along the M/T cell dendrites. The EPL also contains intrinsic interneurons, the functions of which are unknown. In the present study, recordings were obtained from cell bodies in the EPL of mouse olfactory bulb slices. Biocytin-filling confirmed that the recorded cells included interneurons, tufted cells, and astrocytes. The interneurons had fine, varicose dendrites, and those located superficially bridged the EPL space below several adjacent glomeruli. Interneuron activity was characterized by high frequency spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic potential/currents that were blocked by the alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid (AMPA)/kainate receptor antagonist 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione and largely eliminated by the voltage-sensitive Na+ channel blocker, tetrodotoxin. Interneuron activity differed markedly from that of tufted cells, which usually exhibited spontaneous action potential bursts. The interneurons produced few action potentials spontaneously, but often produced them in response to depolarization and/or olfactory nerve (ON) stimulation. The responses to depolarization resembled responses of late- and fast-spiking interneurons found in other cortical regions. The latency and variability of the ON-evoked responses were indicative of polysynaptic input. Interneurons expressing green fluorescent protein under control of the mouse glutamic acid decarboxylase 65 promoter exhibited identical properties, providing evidence that the EPL interneurons are GABAergic. Together, these results suggest that EPL interneurons are excited by M/T cells via AMPA/kainate receptors and may in turn inhibit M/T cells within spatial domains that are topographically related to several adjacent glomeruli.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Cell Shape / physiology
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Interneurons / cytology
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Olfactory Bulb / cytology*
  • Olfactory Bulb / physiology*
  • Organ Culture Techniques


  • Green Fluorescent Proteins