An investigation into the synaptic conditions and celluar mechanisms underlying cerebellar synaptic plasticity

  • Julia K. Sutton

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The direction of synaptic plasticity at the connection between parallel fibres (PFs) and Purkinje cells can be modified by PF stimulation alone. Strong activation (Hartell, 1996) or high frequency stimulation (Schreurs and Alkon, 1993) of PFs induced a long-term depression (LTD) of PF-mediated excitatory postsynaptic currents. Brief raised frequency molecular layer stimulation produced a cAMP-dependent long-temi potentiation (LTP) of field potential (FP) responses (Salin et al., 1998). Thin slices of cerebellar vermis were prepared from 14-21 day old male Wistar rats decapitated under Halothane anaesthesia. FP's were recorded from the Purkinje cell layer in response to alternate 0.2Hz activation of stimulating electrodes placed in the molecular layer. In the presence of picrotoxin, FPs displayed two tetrodotoxin-sensitive, negative-going components termed N1 and N2. EPs were graded responses with paired pulse facilitation and were selectively blocked by 101AM 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dicne (CNQX) an antagonist at iy,-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionate-type ionotropic glutamate receptors (AMPAR) suggesting that they were primarily PE-mediated. The effects of raised stimulus intensity (RS) and/or increased frequency (IF) activation of the molecular layer on FP responses were examined. In sagittai and transverse slices combined RS and IF molecular layer activation induced a LTD of the N2 component of FP responses. RSIF stimulation produced fewer incidences of LTD in sagittal slices when an inhibitor of nitric oxide synthase (NOS), guanylate cyclase (GC), protein kinase G (PKG) or the GABAB receptor antagonist CGP62349 was included into the perfusion medium. Application of a nitric oxide (NO) donor, a cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) analogue or a phosphodiesterase (PDE) type V inhibitor to prevent cGMP breakdown paired with IF stimulation produced an acute depression, Raised frequency (RF) molecular layer stimulation produced a slowly emerging LTD of N2 in sagittal slices that was largely blocked in the presence of NOS, cGMP or PKG inhibitors. In transverse slices RE stimulation produced a LTP of the N2 component that was prevented by an inhibitor of protein kinase A or NOS. Inhibition of cGMP-signalling frequently revealed an underlying potentiation suggesting that cGMP activity might mask the effects of cAMP. In sagittal slices RE stimulation resulted in a potentiation of FPs when the cAMP-specific PDE type IV inhibitor rolipram was incorporated into the perfusion medium. In summary, raised levels of PE stimulation can alter the synaptic efficacy at PF-Purkinje cell synapses. The results provide support for a role of NO/cGMP/PKG signalling in the induction of LTD in the cerebellar cortex and suggest that activation of GABAa receptors might also be important. The level of cyclic nucleotide-specific PDE activities may be crucial in determining the level of cGMP and CAMP activity and hence the direction of synaptic plasticity.
Date of Award1999
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorNicholas A. Hartell (Supervisor)


  • Synaptic conditions
  • celluar mechanisms
  • cerebellar synaptic plasticity

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