Potentiation of spontaneous synaptic activity in rat mossy cells

Ben W. Strowbridge, Paul S. Buckmaster, Philip A Schwartzkroin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Recent studies have demonstrated the vulnerability of dentate mossy cells to seizure-induced damage. One source of potentially damaging synaptic input are spontaneously active granule cell terminals ('mossy terminals'.) We sought to test whether there were activity-dependent changes in the spontaneous excitatory input to mossy cells. Using the in vitro slice preparation, we examined the frequency and amplitude of spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) after intracellular current injection designed to mimic the extreme depolarization these neurons receive during repetitive afferent stimulation. In 4 of 7 neurons, depolarization with trains of current pulses resulted in a significant and persistent increase in frequency of spontaneous synaptic depolarizations (to an average of 178% of the initial baseline rate). In 3 of these affected neurons, an increased frequency of large amplitude, fast-rising EPSPs accounted for the majority of this change. Injection of hyperpolarizing current pulses failed to alter spontaneous activity in 3 other mossy cells. These results suggest spontaneous synaptic input to mossy cells is plastic and can be potentiated by depolarization of a single postsynaptic mossy cell. The ability of mossy cells to potentiate their excitatory input may be relevant to their vulnerability to excitotoxic injury during repetitive afferent stimulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-210
Number of pages6
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 17 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Dentate hilus
  • Excitatory postsynaptic potential
  • Hippocampus
  • Mossy cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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