Terminal field and firing selectivity of cholecystokinin-expressing interneurons in the hippocampal CA3 area

J Neurosci. 2011 Dec 7;31(49):18073-93. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3573-11.2011.


Hippocampal oscillations reflect coordinated neuronal activity on many timescales. Distinct types of GABAergic interneuron participate in the coordination of pyramidal cells over different oscillatory cycle phases. In the CA3 area, which generates sharp waves and gamma oscillations, the contribution of identified GABAergic neurons remains to be defined. We have examined the firing of a family of cholecystokinin-expressing interneurons during network oscillations in urethane-anesthetized rats and compared them with firing of CA3 pyramidal cells. The position of the terminals of individual visualized interneurons was highly diverse, selective, and often spatially coaligned with either the entorhinal or the associational inputs to area CA3. The spike timing in relation to theta and gamma oscillations and sharp waves was correlated with the innervated pyramidal cell domain. Basket and dendritic-layer-innervating interneurons receive entorhinal and associational inputs and preferentially fire on the ascending theta phase, when pyramidal cell assemblies emerge. Perforant-path-associated cells, driven by recurrent collaterals of pyramidal cells fire on theta troughs, when established pyramidal cell assemblies are most active. In the CA3 area, slow and fast gamma oscillations occurred on opposite theta oscillation phases. Perforant-path-associated and some COUP-TFII-positive interneurons are strongly coupled to both fast and slow gamma oscillations, but basket and dendritic-layer-innervating cells are weakly coupled to fast gamma oscillations only. During sharp waves, different interneuron types are activated, inhibited, or remain unaffected. We suggest that specialization in pyramidal cell domain and glutamatergic input-specific operations, reflected in the position of GABAergic terminals, is the evolutionary drive underlying the diversity of cholecystokinin-expressing interneurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Biotin / analogs & derivatives
  • Biotin / metabolism
  • Brain Waves / physiology*
  • CA3 Region, Hippocampal / cytology*
  • Cholecystokinin / metabolism*
  • Interneurons / cytology
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide / metabolism
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Proteins / metabolism


  • Slc17a8 protein, rat
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Proteins
  • neurobiotin
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide
  • Biotin
  • Cholecystokinin