Electrophysiological evidence from glutamate microapplications for local excitatory circuits in the CA1 area of rat hippocampal slices

J Neurophysiol. 1988 Jan;59(1):110-23. doi: 10.1152/jn.1988.59.1.110.


1. Evidence for local excitatory synaptic connections in CA1 of the rat hippocampus was obtained by recording excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) intracellularly from pyramidal cells during local microapplications of glutamate. 2. Experiments were performed in hippocampal slices cut parallel to (transverse slice) or perpendicular to (longitudinal slice) alvear fibers. In normal solutions, glutamate microdrops (10-20 mM, 10-20 micron diam) applied in CA1 within 400 micron of recorded cells sometimes increased the frequency of inhibitory postsynaptic potentials for 5-10 s in both transverse and longitudinal slices. Increases in EPSP frequency were also occasionally observed, but only in transverse slices. Tetrodotoxin (1 microgram/ml) blocked glutamate-induced increases in PSP frequency, thus indicating that they were not caused by subthreshold effects on presynaptic terminals. Increases in PSP frequency were interpreted to result from glutamate activation of hippocampal neurons with inhibitory and excitatory connections to recorded neurons. 3. In both slice orientations, local excitatory circuits were studied in more isolated conditions by surgically separating CA1 from CA3 (transverse slices) and by blocking GABAergic inhibitory synapses with picrotoxin (5-10 microM). Microdrops were systematically applied at 200 and 400 micron on each side of the recording site. Significant glutamate-induced increases in EPSP frequency were observed in neurons from both slice orientations to microdrops in at least one of the locations. This provided evidence that excitatory synapses are present in both transverse and longitudinal slices. 4. Substantial increases in EPSP frequency only occurred in neurons from longitudinal slices when glutamate was microapplied 200 micron or less from the recording site. In transverse slices, however, large increases in EPSP frequency were observed to glutamate microapplications at 200 or 400 micron. These data suggest that CA1 local excitatory connections project for longer distances in the transverse than in the longitudinal plane of section. 5. Increases in EPSP frequency, averaged across cells, did not differ significantly in the four microapplication sites in either transverse or longitudinal slices. Thus local excitation in CA1 does not appear to be asymmetrically arranged in the way suggested for CA3. 6. The densities of local excitatory circuits in CA1 versus CA3 were studied by quantitatively comparing glutamate-induced increases in EPSP frequency.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Evoked Potentials / drug effects
  • Glutamates / pharmacology*
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Picrotoxin / pharmacology
  • Pyramidal Tracts / drug effects
  • Pyramidal Tracts / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains


  • Glutamates
  • Picrotoxin
  • Glutamic Acid