Long-term depression of synaptic transmission in the cerebellum: cellular and molecular mechanisms revisited

Prog Neurobiol. 1998 May;55(1):79-91. doi: 10.1016/s0301-0082(97)00096-8.


Long-term depression (LTD) of synaptic transmission at parallel fiber (PF)-Purkinje cell (PC) synapses in the cerebellum has been the first established example of enduring decrease of synaptic efficacy in the central nervous system. This review focuses on the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms. Thus, at the level of the postsynaptic membranes of PCs, induction of LTD requires concommitent activation of voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs) and of ionotropic and metabotopic glutamate receptors, of the alpha-amino-3 hydroxy-5-methyl-isoxalone-4-propionate (AMPA) and mGluR1 alpha types respectively. Subsequent intracellular cascades involve production of nitric oxide from arginine and of cGMP, activation of phospholipase A2 and of several protein kinases including protein kinase C and tyrosine kinases. Activation of protein kinase G and of phosphatases are also likely to be involved in LTD induction. In contrast, there are still uncertainties concerning a major role of release of calcium from internal stores in LTD induction. Finally protein synthesis is required for a late phase of LTD to occur. All available experimental evidence points towards a postsynaptic site for LTD expression. In particular, electrophysiological data demonstrate a genuine modification of the functional properties of AMPA receptors of PCs during LTD, and immunocytochemical evidence suggests that this might result from a phosphorylation of these receptors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / physiology
  • Cerebellum / cytology
  • Cerebellum / metabolism
  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Long-Term Potentiation / physiology*
  • Receptors, Glutamate / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*


  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • Calcium