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Effects of Prenatal Protein Malnutrition on Hippocampal Long-Term Potentiation in Freely Moving Rats

Experimental Neurology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1006/exnr.1997.6653
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Abstract It has been demonstrated that prenatal protein malnutrition significantly affects hippocampal plasticity, as measured by long-term potentiation, throughout development. This paper focuses on the hippocampal dentate granule cell population response to two separate paradigms of tetanization of the medial perforant pathway in prenatally protein-malnourished and normally nourished adult male rats. The 100-pulse paradigm consisted of the application of ten 25-ms-duration bursts of 400 Hz stimulation with an interburst interval of 10 s. The 1000-pulse paradigm consisted of the application of five 500-ms bursts of 400 Hz stimulation with an interburst interval of 5 s. No between-group differences were obtained for input/output response measures prior to tetanization. No between-group, nor between-paradigm, differences were obtained in the degree of population EPSP slope enhancement. However, in response to both paradigms, prenatally malnourished animals showed significantly less enhancement of the population spike amplitude (PSA) measure than normally nourished animals. Normally nourished animals showed a significantly greater level of PSA enhancement in response to the 100-pulse paradigm than the 1000-pulse paradigm. Prenatally malnourished animals showed no significant differences in the degree of PSA enhancement between the two paradigms. Results indicate that short duration bursts (≤25 ms) are more effective in inducing maximal PSA enhancement in normally nourished rats than longer duration stimulus bursts. The apparent inability of prenatally malnourished rats to transfer enhanced cellular activation (population EPSP slope enhancement) into enhanced cellular discharge (PSA enhancement) suggests that a preferential enhancement of GABAergic inhibitory modulation of granule cell excitability may result from the prenatal dietary insult. Such potentiation of inhibitory activity would significantly lower the probability of granule cell population discharge, resulting in the significantly lower level of PSA enhancement obtained from these animals.

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