Indexed on: 28 Jan '14Published on: 28 Jan '14Published in: Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991)
Synaptic plasticity comprises a cellular mechanism through which the hippocampus most likely enables memory formation. Neuromodulation, related to arousal, is a key aspect in information storage. The activation of locus coeruleus (LC) neurons by novel experience leads to noradrenaline release in the hippocampus at the level of the dentate gyrus (DG). We explored whether synaptic plasticity in the DG is influenced by activation of the LC via electrical stimulation. Coupling of test-pulses that evoked stable basal synaptic transmission in the DG with stimulation of the LC induced β-adrenoreceptor-dependent long-term depression (LTD) at perforant path-DG synapses in adult rats. Furthermore, persistent LTD (>24 h) induced by perforant path stimulation also required activation of β-adrenergic receptors: Whereas a β-adrenergic receptor antagonist (propranolol) prevented, an agonist (isoproterenol) strengthened the persistence of LTD for over 24 h. These findings support the hypothesis that persistent LTD in the DG is modulated by β-adrenergic receptors. Furthermore, LC activation potently facilitates DG LTD. This suggests in turn that synaptic plasticity in the DG is tightly regulated by activity in the noradrenergic system. This may reflect the role of the LC in selecting salient information for subsequent synaptic processing in the hippocampus.