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Miniature synaptic events maintain dendritic spines via AMPA receptor activation

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  • R A McKinney, Brain Research Institute, University of Zurich, Switzerland. mckinney@hifo.unizh.ch
  • ,
  • M Capogna
  • R Dürr
  • ,
  • B H Gähwiler
  • ,
  • S M Thompson

We investigated the influence of synaptically released glutamate on postsynaptic structure by comparing the effects of deafferentation, receptor antagonists and blockers of glutamate release in hippocampal slice cultures. CA1 pyramidal cell spine density and length decreased after transection of Schaffer collaterals and after application of AMPA receptor antagonists or botulinum toxin to unlesioned cultures. Loss of spines induced by lesion or by botulinum toxin was prevented by simultaneous AMPA application. Tetrodotoxin did not affect spine density. Synaptically released glutamate thus exerts a trophic effect on spines by acting at AMPA receptors. We conclude that AMPA receptor activation by spontaneous vesicular glutamate release is sufficient to maintain dendritic spines.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNature Neuroscience
Pages (from-to)44-9
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1999

    Research areas

  • Afferent Pathways/physiology, Botulinum Toxins/pharmacology, Dendrites/drug effects, Denervation, Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists/pharmacology, Glutamic Acid/metabolism, Hippocampus/drug effects, In Vitro Techniques, Receptors, AMPA/antagonists & inhibitors, Synapses/metabolism, Tetrodotoxin/pharmacology, alpha-Amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic Acid/pharmacology

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