TRPV1 receptors have classically been defined as heat-sensitive, ligand-gated, nonselective cation channels that integrate nociceptive stimuli in sensory neurons. TRPV1 receptors have also been identified in the brain, but their physiological role is poorly understood. Here we report that TRPV1 channel activation is necessary and sufficient to trigger long-term synaptic depression (LTD). Excitatory synapses onto hippocampal interneurons were depressed by either capsaicin, a potent TRPV1 channel activator, or the endogenously released eicosanoid, 12-(S)-HPETE, whereas neighboring excitatory synapses onto CA1 pyramidal cells were unaffected. TRPV1 receptor antagonists also prevented interneuron LTD. In brain slices from TRPV1-/- mice, LTD was absent, and neither capsaicin nor 12-(S)-HPETE elicited synaptic depression. Our results suggest that, in the hippocampus, TRPV1 receptor activation selectively modifies synapses onto interneurons. Like other forms of hippocampal synaptic plasticity, TRPV1-mediated LTD may have a role in long-term changes in physiological and pathological circuit behavior during learning and epileptic activity.
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