Excitatory synaptic responses mediated by GABAA receptors in the hippocampus

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Science  20 Sep 1991:
Vol. 253, Issue 5026, pp. 1420-1423
DOI: 10.1126/science.1654594


Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the cortex. Activation of postsynaptic GABAA receptors hyperpolarizes cells and inhibits neuronal activity. Synaptic responses mediated by GABAA receptors also strongly excited hippocampal neurons. This excitatory response was recorded in morphologically identified interneurons in the presence of 4-aminopyridine or after elevation of extracellular potassium concentrations. The synaptic excitation sustained by GABAA receptors synchronized the activity of inhibitory interneurons. This synchronized discharge of interneurons in turn elicited large-amplitude inhibitory postsynaptic potentials in pyramidal and granule cells. Excitatory synaptic responses mediated by GABAA receptors may thus provide a mechanism for the recruitment of GABAergic interneurons through their recurrent connections.