Changes in the postsynaptic density with long-term potentiation in the dentate gyrus

J Comp Neurol. 1986 Nov 22;253(4):476-82. doi: 10.1002/cne.902530405.


The present study documents alterations in the size of the postsynaptic density (PSD) of synapses formed by entorhinal afferents with granule cell dendritic spines with long-term potentiation (LTP). These changes appear early and persist for at least 60 minutes after LTP-inducing conditioning stimulation. Each animal received test and conditioning stimulation typical of LTP paradigms. Electron microscopic preparation of the dentate gyri from each animal followed conventional procedures. PSD trace lengths of identified asymmetric synaptic profiles were measured. The total PSD length for four categories of synaptic profiles was determined for each third of the molecular layer. PSD surface area per unit volume of tissue (SV) was then computed from these data. Statistical analysis of the SV data used multivariate analysis of variance. PSD surface area per synapse was also estimated. Total PSD surface area per unit volume does not change significantly throughout the entire molecular layer with LTP-inducing conditioning stimulation. However, in the activated portion of the molecular layer, total PSD surface area per unit volume tends to increase with conditioning stimulation. In the middle third of the molecular layer, total PSD surface area per unit volume associated with the concave spine profiles increases significantly while there is a statistically significant decrease in total PSD SV associated with the nonconcave spine profiles. The PSD surface area per synapse also increases markedly. Since it seems that there is an interconversion of spine synapses from nonconcave to concave with LTP (Desmond and Levy: J. Comp. Neurol. In press, '86a), these data suggest that potentiated synapses have larger responses because, in part, they have larger neurotransmitter receptive regions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Hippocampus / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Neuronal Plasticity*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Synapses / ultrastructure
  • Synaptic Transmission*