Effects of cholinergic agents on synaptic transmission and plasticity were examined in entorhinal cortex and hippocampus. Bath application of carbachol (0.25-0.75 microM) induced transient depression of field potential responses in all cases tested (24/24 in layer III of medial entorhinal cortex slices and 24/24 in CA1 of hippocampal slices; 11.0+/-1.9% and 7.8+/-2.5%, respectively) and long-lasting potentiation in some cases (4/24 in entorhinal cortex and 12/24 in hippocampus; 33.7+/-3.7% and 32.1+/-9.9%, respectively, in successful cases). Carbachol (0.5 microM) induced transient depression, but not long-lasting potentiation, of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor-mediated responses in entorhinal cortex. At 5 microM, carbachol induced transient depression only (55. 9+/-4.7% in entorhinal cortex and 41.4+/-2.9% in hippocampus), which was blocked by atropine. Paired-pulse facilitation was not altered during carbachol-induced potentiation but enhanced during carbachol-induced depression. These results suggest that the underlying mechanisms of carbachol-induced depression and potentiation are decreased transmitter release and selective enhancement of non-N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor-mediated responses, respectively. Long-term potentiation could be induced in the presence of 10 microM atropine by theta burst stimulation. The magnitude was significantly lower (15.2+/-5.2%, n=9) compared with control (37.2+/-6.1%, n=8) in entorhinal cortex, however. These results demonstrate similar, but not identical, cholinergic modulation of synaptic transmission and plasticity in entorhinal cortex and hippocampus.
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