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Previous studies have shown that either norepinephrine (NE) or isoproterenol (ISO) enhances the slope of the field excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP) in the dentate gyrus of the rat hippocampal formation. In contrast, NE and ISO cause no increase in excitatory transmission in area CA1 of the hippocampus. The molecular mechanism underlying this brain region-specific increase in synaptic transmission is not known. The phosphorylation of synapsin I and synapsin II, two homologous presynaptic vesicle-associated proteins, is thought to promote neurotransmitter release. The authors have observed previously NE- and ISO-enhanced phosphorylation of synapsins I and II in the dentate gyrus. The purpose of this study was to determine whether ISO-stimulated phosphorylation also occurs in the CA1, where ISO has no effect on excitatory neurotransmission. These studies were correlated with electrophysiological studies in in vitro hippocampal slices. Superfusion of slices with ISO resulted in an increase in EPSP slope in the dentate but not in area CA1. The enhanced dentate EPSP returned to baseline levels within 30 minutes of washout of the drug. Isoproterenol produced corresponding increases in the phosphorylation of the synapsins in dentate slices but had no effect on these proteins in CA1 slices. Moreover, in dentate slices exposed to a 30-minute wash following incubation with ISO, phosphorylation of the synapsins returned to control levels. This close temporal and brain regional correlation between ISO stimulation of both synapsin phosphorylation and synaptic transmission suggests that the synapsin proteins may play a role in the synaptic potentiation produced by ISO in the dentate.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





59 - 64


Animals, Autoradiography, Electric Stimulation, Hippocampus, In Vitro Techniques, Isoproterenol, Kinetics, Male, Phosphates, Phosphorus Radioisotopes, Phosphorylation, Pyramidal Tracts, Rats, Rats, Sprague-Dawley, Synapses, Synapsins, Synaptic Transmission, Time Factors