The hippocampus is essential for the formation of certain types of memory, and synaptic plasticity such as long-term potentiation (LTP) is widely accepted as a cellular basis of hippocampus-dependent memory. Although LTP in both perforant path-dentate gyrus (DG) granule cell and CA3-CA1 pyramidal cell synapses is similarly dependent on activation of postsynaptic N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors, several reports suggest that modulation of LTP by γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptor-mediated inhibitory inputs is stronger in perforant path-DG granule cell synapses. However, little is known about how different the mechanism and physiological relevance of the GABAergic modulation of LTP induction are among different brain regions. We confirmed that the action of GABA(A) receptor antagonists on LTP was more prominent in the DG, and explored the mechanism introducing such difference by examining two types of GABA(A) receptor-mediated inhibition, i.e. synaptic and tonic inhibition. As synaptic inhibition, we compared inhibitory vs. excitatory monosynaptic responses and their summation during an LTP-inducing stimulus, and found that the balance of the summated postsynaptic currents was biased toward inhibition in the DG. As tonic inhibition, or sustained activation of extrasynaptic GABA(A) receptors by ambient GABA, we measured the change in holding currents of the postsynaptic cells induced by GABA(A) receptor antagonists, and found that the tonic inhibition was significantly stronger in the DG. Furthermore, we found that tonic inhibition was associated with LTP modulation. Our results suggest that both the larger tonic inhibition and the larger inhibitory/excitatory summation balance during conditioning are involved in the stronger inhibitory modulation of LTP in the DG.
© 2011 The Authors. European Journal of Neuroscience © 2011 Federation of European Neuroscience Societies and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.