Susceptibility for homeostatic plasticity is down-regulated in parallel with maturation of the rat hippocampal synaptic circuitry

J Physiol. 2007 Jun 1;581(Pt 2):505-14. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2007.130062. Epub 2007 Mar 8.


Homeostatic regulation, i.e. the ability of neurons and neuronal networks to adjust their output in response to chronic alterations in electrical activity is a prerequisite for the pronounced functional plasticity in the developing brain. Cellular mechanisms of homeostatic plasticity have mainly been studied in cultured preparations. To understand the developmental time frame and properties of homeostatic plasticity under more physiological conditions, we have here compared the effects of activity deprivation on synaptic transmission in acutely isolated and cultured hippocampal slices at different stages of development. We find that transmission at both glutamatergic and GABAergic synapses is strongly and rapidly (15 h) regulated in the opposite directions in response to inactivity during narrow, separated time windows early in development. Following this critical period of synaptic development, induction of the homeostatic response requires longer periods (40 h) of inactivity. At glutamatergic synapses, activity blockade led to an increase in the amplitude and frequency of mEPSCs, and the threshold for induction of this response was increased during development. In contrast, homeostatic regulation at GABAergic synapses was expressed in a qualitatively distinct manner at different developmental stages. Immature neurons responded rapidly to inactivity by regulating mIPSC frequency, while longer activity blockade led to a decrease in the mIPSC amplitude independent of the neuronal maturation. The susceptibility of immature networks to homeostatic regulation may serve as a safety mechanism against rapid runaway destability during the time of intense remodelling of the synaptic circuitry.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Down-Regulation
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials
  • Glutamine / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / growth & development
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Homeostasis
  • Inhibitory Postsynaptic Potentials
  • Neuronal Plasticity* / drug effects
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Pyramidal Cells / drug effects
  • Pyramidal Cells / growth & development
  • Pyramidal Cells / metabolism
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Synaptic Transmission* / drug effects
  • Tetrodotoxin / pharmacology
  • Time Factors
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism


  • Glutamine
  • Tetrodotoxin
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid