The axonal conduction of action potentials in the nervous system is generally considered to be a stable signal for the relaying of information, and its dysfunction is involved in impairment of cognitive function. Recent evidence suggests that the conduction properties and excitability of axons are more variable than traditionally thought. To investigate possible changes in the conduction of action potentials along axons in the central nervous system, we recorded action potentials from granule cells that were evoked and conducted antidromically along unmyelinated mossy fibers in the rat hippocampus. To evaluate changes in axons by eliminating any involvement of changes in the somata, two latency values were obtained by stimulating at two different positions and the latency difference between the action potentials was measured. A conditioning electrical stimulus of 20 pulses at 1 Hz increased the latency difference and this effect, which lasted for approximately 30 s, was inhibited by the application of an α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionate (AMPA)/kainate receptor antagonist or a GluK1-containing kainate receptor antagonist, but not by an AMPA receptor-selective antagonist or an N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor antagonist. These results indicated that axonal conduction in mossy fibers is modulated in an activity-dependent manner through the activation of GluK1-containing kainate receptors. These dynamic changes in axonal conduction may contribute to the physiology and pathophysiology of the brain.
We examined activity-dependent changes in axonal conduction of mossy fibers in the hippocampus. The conduction latency was increased by a stimulus consisting of 20 pulses at 1 Hz. The increase in conduction latency lasted for approximately 30 s. This suppressive effect was mediated through the activation of kainate receptors. These dynamic changes in axonal conduction may contribute to the fine control of neural activity and to information processing in the brain.