Parvalbumin-expressing interneurons can act solo while somatostatin-expressing interneurons act in chorus in most cases on cortical pyramidal cells

Sci Rep. 2017 Oct 6;7(1):12764. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-12958-4.


Neural circuits in the cerebral cortex consist primarily of excitatory pyramidal (Pyr) cells and inhibitory interneurons. Interneurons are divided into several subtypes, in which the two major groups are those expressing parvalbumin (PV) or somatostatin (SOM). These subtypes of interneurons are reported to play distinct roles in tuning and/or gain of visual response of pyramidal cells in the visual cortex. It remains unclear whether there is any quantitative and functional difference between the PV → Pyr and SOM → Pyr connections. We compared unitary inhibitory postsynaptic currents (uIPSCs) evoked by electrophysiological activation of single presynaptic interneurons with population IPSCs evoked by photo-activation of a mass of interneurons in vivo and in vitro in transgenic mice in which PV or SOM neurons expressed channelrhodopsin-2, and found that at least about 14 PV neurons made strong connections with a postsynaptic Pyr cell while a much larger number of SOM neurons made weak connections. Activation or suppression of single PV neurons modified visual responses of postsynaptic Pyr cells in 6 of 7 pairs whereas that of single SOM neurons showed no significant modification in 8 of 11 pairs, suggesting that PV neurons can act solo whereas most of SOM neurons may act in chorus on Pyr cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology*
  • Inhibitory Postsynaptic Potentials
  • Interneurons / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Parvalbumins / metabolism*
  • Pyramidal Cells / metabolism*
  • Somatostatin / metabolism*


  • Parvalbumins
  • Somatostatin