Nitric oxide and carbon monoxide produce activity-dependent long-term synaptic enhancement in hippocampus

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Science  25 Jun 1993:
Vol. 260, Issue 5116, pp. 1946-1950
DOI: 10.1126/science.8100368


Nitric oxide (NO) and carbon monoxide (CO) may act as retrograde messages for long-term potentiation (LTP) in the hippocampus. Zinc protoporphyrin IX, an inhibitor of the enzyme that produces CO, blocked induction of LTP in the CA1 region of hippocampal slices. Application of either NO or CO to slices produced a rapid and long-lasting increase in the size of evoked synaptic potentials if, and only if, the application occurred at the same time as weak tetanic stimulation. This long-term enhancement was spatially restricted to synapses from active presynaptic fibers and appeared to involve mechanisms utilized by LTP, occluding the subsequent induction of LTP by strong tetanic stimulation. The enhancement by NO and CO was not blocked by an N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor blocker, suggesting that NO and CO act downstream from the NMDA receptor. Also, CO produced long-term enhancement when paired with low-frequency stimulation. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that NO and CO, either alone or in combination, serve as retrograde messages that produce activity-dependent presynaptic enhancement during LTP.

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