Distance-dependent differences in synapse number and AMPA receptor expression in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons

Neuron. 2006 May 4;50(3):431-42. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2006.03.022.


The ability of synapses throughout the dendritic tree to influence neuronal output is crucial for information processing in the brain. Synaptic potentials attenuate dramatically, however, as they propagate along dendrites toward the soma. To examine whether excitatory axospinous synapses on CA1 pyramidal neurons compensate for their distance from the soma to counteract such dendritic filtering, we evaluated axospinous synapse number and receptor expression in three progressively distal regions: proximal and distal stratum radiatum (SR), and stratum lacunosum-moleculare (SLM). We found that the proportion of perforated synapses increases as a function of distance from the soma and that their AMPAR, but not NMDAR, expression is highest in distal SR and lowest in SLM. Computational models of pyramidal neurons derived from these results suggest that they arise from the compartment-specific use of conductance scaling in SR and dendritic spikes in SLM to minimize the influence of distance on synaptic efficacy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Polarity / physiology
  • Cell Shape / physiology
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Dendritic Spines / metabolism
  • Dendritic Spines / ultrastructure
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • Image Cytometry
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Perforant Pathway / metabolism
  • Perforant Pathway / ultrastructure
  • Presynaptic Terminals / metabolism
  • Presynaptic Terminals / ultrastructure
  • Pyramidal Cells / cytology
  • Pyramidal Cells / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred BN
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Receptors, AMPA / metabolism*
  • Synapses / metabolism*
  • Synapses / ultrastructure
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*


  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Glutamic Acid