In Vivo Calcium Imaging of CA3 Pyramidal Neuron Populations in Adult Mouse Hippocampus

eNeuro. 2021 Aug 23;8(4):ENEURO.0023-21.2021. doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0023-21.2021. Print 2021 Jul-Aug.


Neuronal population activity in the hippocampal CA3 subfield is implicated in cognitive brain functions such as memory processing and spatial navigation. However, because of its deep location in the brain, the CA3 area has been difficult to target with modern calcium imaging approaches. Here, we achieved chronic two-photon calcium imaging of CA3 pyramidal neurons with the red fluorescent calcium indicator R-CaMP1.07 in anesthetized and awake mice. We characterize CA3 neuronal activity at both the single-cell and population level and assess its stability across multiple imaging days. During both anesthesia and wakefulness, nearly all CA3 pyramidal neurons displayed calcium transients. Most of the calcium transients were consistent with a high incidence of bursts of action potentials (APs), based on calibration measurements using simultaneous juxtacellular recordings and calcium imaging. In awake mice, we found state-dependent differences with striking large and prolonged calcium transients during locomotion. We estimate that trains of >30 APs over 3 s underlie these salient events. Their abundance in particular subsets of neurons was relatively stable across days. At the population level, we found that co-activity within the CA3 network was above chance level and that co-active neuron pairs maintained their correlated activity over days. Our results corroborate the notion of state-dependent spatiotemporal activity patterns in the recurrent network of CA3 and demonstrate that at least some features of population activity, namely co-activity of cell pairs and likelihood to engage in prolonged high activity, are maintained over days.

Keywords: auto-associative network; calcium imaging; complex spike burst; hippocampus CA3; juxtacellular; locomotion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Calcium*
  • Hippocampus
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neurons
  • Pyramidal Cells*


  • Calcium