Blockade of inhibition in a pathway with dual excitatory and inhibitory action unmasks a capability for LTP that is otherwise not expressed

Brain Res. 1990 May 21;516(2):292-300. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(90)90930-a.


Long-term potentiation (LTP) can be readily elicited in a number of hippocampal pathways, but has not been seen in the dentate commissural pathway. The dentate commissural pathway is similar to the commissural/Schaffer collateral projection to CA1 except that it produces powerful inhibition that occurs nearly concurrently with the excitation. The present study evaluates whether this inhibition prevents the pathway from expressing LTP. Acute neurophysiological experiments were carried out in urethane anesthetized rats. To locally block inhibition in the dentate gyrus, a recording micropipette filled with 8 mM bicuculline was positioned in the dentate gyrus. A control saline-filled micropipette was positioned nearby. The commissural pathway was activated by stimulating electrodes in the contralateral CA3/CA4 region. Brief high-frequency stimulation of the commissural pathway reliably elicited LTP at the bicuculline electrode but not at the control electrode. This LTP required a threshold level of stimulation for its initiation, suggesting that like most other examples of LTP, the LTP in the commissural system depended upon activation of a voltage-dependent receptor. The high-frequency stimuli used to induce LTP produced an extracellular negativity at the bicuculline electrode that was not present at the control electrode. This negative potential was selectively blocked by ketamine and MK801, suggesting that the negative potential reflects N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor activation. Taken together, these results suggest that LTP is not normally expressed by the dentate commissural pathway because the simultaneous inhibition prevents the depolarization-related relief of Mg2+ blockade of the NMDA receptor.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bicuculline / pharmacology*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Male
  • Neural Inhibition / drug effects*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains


  • Bicuculline