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Pronounced differences in signal processing and synaptic plasticity between piriform‐hippocampal network stages: a prominent role for adenosine

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Key points

Extended trains of theta rhythm afferent activity lead to a biphasic response facilitation in field CA1 but not in the lateral perforant path input to the dentate gyrus. Processes that reverse long-term potentiation in field CA1 are not operative in the lateral perforant path: multiple lines of evidence indicate that this reflects differences in adenosine signalling. Adenosine A1 receptors modulate baseline synaptic transmission in the lateral olfactory tract but not the associational afferents of the piriform cortex. Levels of ecto-5'-nucleotidase (CD73), an enzyme that converts extracellular ATP into adenosine, are markedly different between regions and correlate with adenosine signalling and the efficacy of theta pulse stimulation in reversing long-term potentiation. Variations in transmitter mobilization, CD73 levels, and afferent divergence result in multivariate differences in signal processing through nodes in the cortico-hippocampal network.


The present study evaluated learning-related synaptic operations across the serial stages of the olfactory cortex-hippocampus network. Theta frequency stimulation produced very different time-varying responses in the Schaffer-commissural projections than in the lateral perforant path (LPP), an effect associated with distinctions in transmitter mobilization. Long-term potentiation (LTP) had a higher threshold in LPP field potential studies but not in voltage clamped neurons; coupled with input/output relationships, these results suggest that LTP threshold differences reflect the degree of input divergence. Theta pulse stimulation erased LTP in CA1 but not in the dentate gyrus (DG), although adenosine eliminated potentiation in both areas, suggesting that theta increases extracellular adenosine to a greater degree in CA1. Moreover, adenosine A1 receptor antagonism had larger effects on theta responses in CA1 than in the DG, and concentrations of ecto-5'-nucleotidase (CD73) were much higher in CA1. Input/output curves for two connections in the piriform cortex were similar to those for the LPP, whereas adenosine modulation again correlated with levels of CD73. In sum, multiple relays in a network extending from the piriform cortex through the hippocampus can be differentiated along three dimensions (input divergence, transmitter mobilization, adenosine modulation) that potently influence throughput and plasticity. A model that incorporates the regional differences, supplemented with data for three additional links, suggests that network output goes through three transitions during the processing of theta input. It is proposed that individuated relays allow the circuit to deal with different types of behavioural problems.

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