Relative roles of different mechanisms of depression at the mouse endbulb of Held

J Neurophysiol. 2008 May;99(5):2510-21. doi: 10.1152/jn.01293.2007. Epub 2008 Mar 26.


Several mechanisms can underlie short-term synaptic depression, including vesicle depletion, receptor desensitization, and changes in presynaptic release probability. To determine which mechanisms affect depression under physiological conditions, we studied the synapse formed by auditory nerve fibers onto bushy cells in the anteroventral cochlear nucleus (the "endbulb of Held") using voltage-clamp recordings of brain slices from P15-P21 mice near physiological temperatures. Depression of both alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) showed two phases of recovery. The fast component of depression for the AMPA EPSC was eliminated by cyclothiazide and aniracetam, suggesting it results from desensitization. The fast component of depression for the NMDA EPSC was reduced by the low-affinity antagonist l-AP5, suggesting it results from saturation. The remaining depression in AMPA and NMDA components is identical and therefore presynaptic in origin. It is likely to result from presynaptic vesicle depletion. Recovery from depression after trains of activity was slowed by the application of EGTA-AM, suggesting that the endbulb has a residual-calcium-dependent form of recovery. We developed a model that incorporates depletion, desensitization, and calcium-dependent recovery. This model replicated experimental findings over a range of experimental conditions. The model further indicated that desensitization plays only a minor role during prolonged activity, in large part because presynaptic release is so depleted. Thus depletion appears to be the dominant mechanism of depression at the endbulb during normal activity. Furthermore, calcium-dependent recovery at the endbulb is critical to prevent complete rundown during high activity and to preserve the reliability of information transmission.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Benzothiadiazines / pharmacology
  • Cochlear Nucleus / cytology
  • Cochlear Nucleus / physiology*
  • Diuretics / pharmacology
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / drug effects
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred CBA
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Nootropic Agents / pharmacology
  • Pyrrolidinones / pharmacology
  • Receptors, AMPA / drug effects
  • Receptors, AMPA / physiology
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / drug effects
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology


  • Benzothiadiazines
  • Diuretics
  • Nootropic Agents
  • Pyrrolidinones
  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • aniracetam
  • cyclothiazide