Multiple Forms of Long-Term Potentiation and Long-Term Depression Converge on a Single Interneuron in the Leech CNS

Brian D. Burrell, Christie L. Sahley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Long-term potentiation (LTP) of synaptic transmission was observed in two types of synapses that converge on the same postsynaptic neuron in the leech CNS. These synapses were made by identifiable sensory neurons, the mechanosensory touch (T-) and pressure (P-) cells, onto the S-cell, an interneuron critical for certain forms of learning. Changes in both the T-S and P-S synapses appear to be activity dependent because LTP was restricted to inputs that had undergone tetanization; however, properties of synaptic plasticity at the T-S and P-S connections differ considerably. At the P-S synapse, LTP was induced in the tetanized synapse but not in the nontetanized synapse tested in parallel. P-S LTP was blocked by the NMDA receptor antagonist DL-2-amino-5-phosphono-valeric acid (AP-5) or by lowering the extracellular concentration of glycine, an NMDA receptor (NMDAR) co-agonist. P-S LTP was strongly affected by the initial amplitude of the synaptic potential at the time LTP was induced. Smaller amplitude synapses (<3.5 mV) underwent robust potentiation, whereas the less common, larger amplitude synapse (>3.5 mV) depressed after tetanization. At the T-S synapse, tetanization simultaneously induced homosynaptic LTP in the tetanized input and heterosynaptic long-term depression (LTD) in the input made by a nontetanized T-cell onto the same S-cell. Interestingly, AP-5 failed to block homosynaptic LTP at the T-S synapse but did prevent heterosynaptic LTD. T-S LTP was not affected by the initial EPSP amplitude. Thus, leech neurons exhibit synaptic plasticity with properties similar to LTP and LTD found in the vertebrate nervous system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4011-4019
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number16
StatePublished - Apr 21 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Learning
  • Leech
  • Long-term depression
  • Long-term potentiation
  • NMDA
  • Synaptic plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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