Urethane anesthesia suppresses hippocampal subthreshold activity and neuronal synchronization

Brain Res. 2020 Dec 15:1749:147137. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2020.147137. Epub 2020 Sep 29.


Urethane, an anesthetic utilized for animal experiments, induces neocortical slow oscillations in which a large number of neurons emit rhythmic synchronized activity. However, it remains unclear how urethane affects neuronal activity in the hippocampus. In this study, we obtained in vivo patch-clamp recordings from dorsal hippocampal CA1 neurons in mice and found a reduction in the fluctuation of subthreshold membrane potentials during urethane anesthesia, implying reduced synaptic activity in the hippocampus. We then performed spike unit recordings from dorsal hippocampal CA1 neuronal ensembles in rats and found prominent reductions in the spike rates of the majority of hippocampal units, especially spatially selective units, during urethane anesthesia, whereas a subset of nonspatial units exhibited increased spike rates. The overall reductions in neuronal spike rates induced by urethane led to prominent decreases in spike synchronization across neuronal units. Consistently, the magnitude of hippocampal sharp wave ripples was also reduced by urethane. The suppression of hippocampal neuronal synchronization by urethane may lead to the disruption of offline memory reactivation mechanisms.

Keywords: Hippocampus; Place cell; Sharp wave ripple; Synapse; Synchronization; Urethane.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects*
  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Anesthetics, Intravenous / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Hippocampus / drug effects*
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Rats
  • Urethane / pharmacology*


  • Anesthetics, Intravenous
  • Urethane