University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006
Cellular and network mechanisms generating spontaneous population events in the immature rat hippocampus
Doctoral dissertation, June 2006.
Distinct endogenous network events, generated independently of sensory input, are a general feature of various structures of the immature central nervous system. In the immature hippocampus, these type of events are seen as "giant depolarizing potentials" (GDPs) in intracellular recordings in vitro. GABA, the major inhibitory neurotransmitter of the adult brain, has a depolarizing action in immature neurons, and GDPs have been proposed to be driven by GABAergic transmission. Moreover, GDPs have been thought to reflect an early pattern that disappears during development in parallel with the maturation of hyperpolarizing GABAergic inhibition. However, the adult hippocampus in vivo also generates endogenous network events known as sharp (positive) waves (SPWs), which reflect synchronous discharges of CA3 pyramidal neurons and are thought to be involved in cognitive functions.
In this thesis, mechanisms of GDP generation were studied with intra- and extracellular recordings in the neonatal rat hippocampus in vitro and in vivo. Immature CA3 pyramidal neurons were found to generate intrinsic bursts of spikes and to act as cellular pacemakers for GDP activity whereas depolarizing GABAergic signalling was found to have a temporally non-patterned facilitatory role in the generation of the network events. Furthermore, the data indicate that the intrinsic bursts of neonatal CA3 pyramidal neurons and, consequently, GDPs are driven by a persistent Na+ current and terminated by a slow Ca2+-dependent K+ current. Gramicidin-perforated patch recordings showed that the depolarizing driving force for GABAA receptor-mediated actions is provided by Cl- uptake via the Na-K-C1 cotransporter, NKCC1, in the immature CA3 pyramids. A specific blocker of NKCC1, bumetanide, inhibited SPWs and GDPs in the neonatal rat hippocampus in vivo and in vitro, respectively. Finally, pharmacological blockade of the GABA transporter-1 prolonged the decay of the large GDP-associated GABA transients but not of single postsynaptic GABAA receptor-mediated currents.
As a whole the data in this thesis indicate that the mechanism of GDP generation, based on the interconnected network of bursting CA3 pyramidal neurons, is similar to that involved in adult SPW activity. Hence, GDPs do not reflect a network pattern that disappears during development but they are the in vitro counterpart of neonatal SPWs.
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© University of Helsinki 2006
Last updated 29.05.2006