The cholinergic system and hippocampal plasticity.
ABSTRACT Acetylcholine is an essential excitatory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system and undertakes a vital role in cognitive function. Consequently, there is ample evidence to suggest the involvement of both nicotinic and muscarinic acetylcholine receptors in the modulation of synaptic plasticity, which is believed to be the molecular correlate of learning and memory. In the hippocampus in particular, multiple subtypes of both nicotinic and muscarinic receptors are present at presynaptic and postsynaptic loci of both principal neurons and inhibitory interneurons, where they exert profound bi-directional influences on synaptic transmission. Further evidence points to a role for cholinergic activation in the induction and maintenance of synaptic plasticity, and key influences on hippocampal network oscillations. The present review examines these multiple roles of acetylcholine in hippocampal plasticity.
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ABSTRACT: Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) is emerging as a versatile tool to affect brain function. While acute neurophysiological effects of stimulation are well understood, little is know about the long term effects. One hypothesis is that stimulation modulates ongoing neural activity which then translates into lasting effects via physiological plasticity. Here we used carbachol-induced gamma oscillations in hippocampal rat slices to establish whether prolonged constant current stimulation has a lasting effect on endogenous neural activity. During 10 minutes of stimulation, power and frequency of gamma oscillations, as well as multi-unit activity were modulated in a polarity specific manner. Remarkably, the effects on power and multi-unit activity persisted for more than 10 minutes after stimulation terminated. Using a computational model we propose that altered synaptic efficacy in excitatory and inhibitory pathways could be the source of these lasting effects. Future experimental studies using this novel in-vitro preparation may be able to confirm or refute the proposed hypothesis. Copyright © 2014, Journal of Neurophysiology.Journal of Neurophysiology 12/2014; 113(5):jn.00208.2014. DOI:10.1152/jn.00208.2014 · 3.04 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Mental disorders, such as schizophrenia or Alzheimer’s disease, are associated with impaired synaptogenesis and/or synaptic communication. During development, neurons assemble into neuronal networks, the primary supracellular mediators of information processing. In addition to the orchestrated activation of genetic programs, spontaneous electrical activity and associated calcium signaling have been shown to be critically involved in the maturation of such neuronal networks. We established an in vitro model that recapitulates the maturation of neuronal networks, including spontaneous electrical activity. Upon plating, mouse primary hippocampal neurons grow neurites and interconnect via synapses to form a dish-wide neuronal network. Via live cell calcium imaging, we identified a limited period of time in which the spontaneous activity synchronizes across neurons, indicative of the formation of a functional network. After establishment of network activity, the neurons grow dendritic spines, the density of which was used as a morphological readout for neuronal maturity and connectivity. Hence, quantification of neurite outgrowth, synapse density, spontaneous neuronal activity, and dendritic spine density allowed to study neuronal network maturation from the day of plating until the presence of mature neuronal networks. Via acute pharmacological intervention, we show that synchronized network activity is mediated by the NMDA-R. The balance between kynurenic and quinolinic acid, both neuro-active intermediates in the tryptophan/kynurenine pathway, was shown to be decisive for the maintenance of network activity. Chronic modulation of the neurotrophic support influenced the network formation and revealed the extreme sensitivity of calcium imaging to detect subtle alterations in neuronal physiology. Given the reproducible cultivation in a 96-well setup in combination with fully automated analysis of the calcium recordings, this approach can be used to build a high-content screening assay usable for neurotoxicity screening, target identification/validation, or phenotypic drug screening.Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology 07/2014; 34(5). DOI:10.1007/s10571-014-0057-6 · 2.20 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: It is well-known that the cholinergic system and the muscarinic cholinergic receptors are associated with cognitive functions. Here we examined whether a non-selective muscarinic receptor antagonist scopolamine affects learning performance and/or synaptic plasticity during the memory consolidation period. Adult male Wistar rats (250-300 g) were injected with scopolamine (2 mg/kg) or saline immediately after training in a "passive avoidance" task. Memory retention test was conducted 24 h after training. The changes in the latency of the first entry into a dark compartment of a test chamber was chosen as a criterion of learning. The efficacy of synaptic transmission was estimated by the changes in the basal level of focal potentials (fEPSP amplitude and slope ratio) before training (baseline), 90 min after the training (consolidation period), and 24 hour after the training (retention period). We found that foot-shock presentation by itself had no effect on fEPSP within the first 90 min after training, but in 24 hour fEPSPs were decreased. In untrained rats administration of scopolamine had no effect on the fEPSP amplitude within the first 90 min after the injection, but in 24 h we observed an increase in the fEPSP amplitude. In trained animals, scopolamine decreased the fEPSP amplitude in the hippocampal CA1 area during first 1.5 h after the injection. However, the drug had no effect on the memory retention in the passive avoidance task. Taken together our data suggest that scopolamine modifies the synaptic placticity of the hippocampal network but does not induce significant changes in the retention of the passive avoidance skill.Acta neurobiologiae experimentalis 01/2014; 74(2):211-7. · 2.24 Impact Factor