Long-term depression in the rat hippocampus as a memory model : Interrogating the role of protein synthesis in NMDA- and mGluR-dependent synaptic plasticity
Long-term potentiation (LTP) and depression (LTD) are important forms of activity-dependent synaptic plasticity believed to play a role in memory at the cellular level. It has previously been described that synthesis of new proteins is needed to maintain LTP longer than a few hours. Other reports argue that sufficient proteins for stable LTP are already available. The present study aims to examine the role of protein synthesis in LTD, the presumed mirror mechanism of LTP.
Experiments were carried out in hippocampal slices from young (12-45 days) and old (12-18 weeks) Sprague-Dawley rats. Extracellular techniques were used to study synaptic responses in the Schaffer-collateral-commissural pathway. Plasticity was induced electrically by low frequency stimulation (2-3 trains at 1 Hz for 15 min) or chemically by brief exposure to certain glutamate receptor agonists (NMDA at 20 µM for 3 min or DHPG at 100 µM for 10 min). Whole slice protein synthesis was quantified by assessing 3H-leucine incorporation.
Stable LTD (> 8 h) was be obtained by either electrical or chemical activation. Protein synthesis inhibitors anisomycin (40 uM) and cycloheximide (100 uM) both failed to influence the magnitude of LTD. Moreover, no age difference was found, in terms of stable LTD in both young and old rats under inhibition of protein synthesis. The potency of the inhibitors was found to be high, depressing synthesis down to a few percent. It is concluded that sufficient proteins for generating stable LTD are normally present in the brain, implying a large safety-margin for cellular memory.
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