Superficial Layer-Specific Histaminergic Modulation of Medial Entorhinal Cortex Required for Spatial Learning


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Abstract

The medial entorhinal cortex (MEC) plays a crucial role in spatial learning and memory. Whereas the MEC receives a dense histaminergic innervation from the tuberomamillary nucleus of the hypothalamus, the functions of histamine in this brain region remain unclear. Here, we show that histamine acts via H1Rs to directly depolarize the principal neurons in the superficial, but not deep, layers of the MEC when recording at somata. Moreover, histamine decreases the spontaneous GABA, but not glutamate, release onto principal neurons in the superficial layers by acting at presynaptic H3Rs without effect on synaptic release in the deep layers. Histamine-induced depolarization is mediated via inhibition of Kir channels and requires the activation of protein kinase C, whereas the inhibition of spontaneous GABA release by histamine depends on voltage-gated Ca2+ channels and extracellular Ca2+. Furthermore, microinjection of the H1R or H3R, but not H2R, antagonist respectively into the superficial, but not deep, layers of MEC impairs rat spatial learning as assessed by water maze tasks but does not affect the motor function and exploratory activity in an open field. Together, our study indicates that histamine plays an essential role in spatial learning by selectively regulating neuronal excitability and synaptic transmission in the superficial layers of the MEC.

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