Impaired GABAergic transmission disrupts normal homeostatic plasticity in rat cortical networks

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In the cortex, homeostatic plasticity appears to be a key process for maintaining neuronal network activity in a functional range. This phenomenon depends on close interactions between excitatory and inhibitory circuits. We previously showed that application of a high frequency of stimulation (HFS) protocol in layer 2/3 induces parallel potentiation of excitatory and inhibitory inputs on layer 5 pyramidal neurons, leading to an unchanged excitation/inhibition (E/I) balance. These coordinated long-term potentiations of excitation and inhibition correspond to homeostatic plasticity of the neuronal networks. We showed here, on the rat visual cortex, that blockade (with gabazine) or overactivation (with 4,5,6,7-tetrahydroisoxazolo[5,4-c]pyridin-3-ol) of GABAA receptors enhanced the E/I balance and prevented the potentiation of excitatory and inhibitory inputs after an HFS protocol. These impairements of the GABAergic transmission led to a long-term depression-like effect after an HFS protocol. We also observed that the blockade of inhibition reduced excitation (by 60%), and conversely, the blockade of excitation decreased inhibition (by 90%). These results support the idea that inhibitory interneurons are critical for recurrent interactions underlying homeostatic plasticity in cortical networks.

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