LTD-like molecular pathways in developmental synaptic pruning

Nat Neurosci. 2016 Sep 27;19(10):1299-310. doi: 10.1038/nn.4389.


In long-term depression (LTD) at synapses in the adult brain, synaptic strength is reduced in an experience-dependent manner. LTD thus provides a cellular mechanism for information storage in some forms of learning. A similar activity-dependent reduction in synaptic strength also occurs in the developing brain and there provides an essential step in synaptic pruning and the postnatal development of neural circuits. Here we review evidence suggesting that LTD and synaptic pruning share components of their underlying molecular machinery and may thus represent two developmental stages of the same type of synaptic modulation that serve different, but related, functions in neural circuit plasticity. We also assess the relationship between LTD and synaptic pruning in the context of recent findings of LTD dysregulation in several mouse models of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and discuss whether LTD deficits can indicate impaired pruning processes that are required for proper brain development.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Long-Term Synaptic Depression / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*