Following prolonged stimulation of the perforant path input to the dentate gyrus, long-lasting changes occur in the synaptic responses and cell properties of cells in the fascia dentata. The present study describes the effects of sustained stimulation on the major population of cells innervated by the dentate granule cells: area CA3 pyramidal cells of hippocampus. In 46% of slices from rat, sustained stimulation of perforant path was followed by spontaneous, synchronized, rhythmic bursting activity in area CA3 pyramidal cells that was evident for several hours. These bursts could be recorded extracellularly in the pyramidal cell layer, throughout the hilar region, and even in the granule cell layer. With intracellular recording, all of the cells of the fascia dentata were found to be affected by the pyramidal cell bursts. Hyperpolarizing, inhibitory postsynaptic potential (IPSP)-like events occurred in all granule cells tested during the CA3 pyramidal cell burst. In contrast, spiny hilar "mossy" cells discharged synchronously with the pyramidal cells, as did some of the "fast spiking" interneurons. However, most interneurons only depolarized a few millivolts during the pyramidal cell burst. These results show that sustained stimulation of the perforant path is followed by a period of hyperexcitability in area CA3 of the hippocampus, and that hyperexcitability in area CA3 influences the activity of the cells in the fascia dentata.
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