Acetylcholine mediates a slow synaptic potential in hippocampal pyramidal cells

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Science  23 Sep 1983:
Vol. 221, Issue 4617, pp. 1299-1301
DOI: 10.1126/science.6612345


The hippocampal slice preparation was used to study the role of acetylcholine as a synaptic transmitter. Bath-applied acetylcholine had three actions on pyramidal cells: (i) depolarization associated with increased input resistance, (ii) blockade of calcium-activated potassium responses, and (iii) blockade of accommodation of cell discharge. All these actions were reversed by the muscarinic antagonist atropine. Stimulation of sites in the slice known to contain cholinergic fibers mimicked all the actions. Furthermore, these evoked synaptic responses were enhanced by the cholinesterase inhibitor eserine and were blocked by atropine. These findings provide electrophysiological support for the role of acetylcholine as a synaptic transmitter in the brain and demonstrate that nonclassical synaptic responses involving the blockade of membrane conductances exist in the brain.