In vivo cholinergic modulation of the cellular properties of medial entorhinal cortex neurons

Yusuke Tsuno, Nathan W. Schultheiss, Michael E. Hasselmo

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20 Scopus citations


Extensive in vitro data and modeling studies suggest that intrinsic properties of medial entorhinal cortex (MEC) neurons contribute to the spiking behaviour of functional cell types of MEC neurons, such as grid cells, recorded in behaving animals. It remains unclear, however, how intrinsic properties of MEC neurons influence cellular dynamics in intact networks in vivo. In order to begin to bridge the gap between electrophysiological data sets from brain slices and behaving animals, in the present study we performed intracellular recordings using sharp electrodes in urethane-anaesthetized rats to elucidate the cellular dynamics of MEC neurons in vivo. We focused on the h-current-dependent sag potential during hyperpolarizing current steps, subthreshold resonance in response to oscillatory frequency sweeps (chirp stimuli), persistent spiking in response to brief depolarizing inputs and the relationship between firing frequency and input (f-I curve), each of which is sensitive to cholinergic modulation in vitro. Consistent with data from in vitro studies, cholinergic activation by systemic application of the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, physostigmine, resulted in decreased sag amplitude, increased sag time constant and a decrease of the peak resonance frequency. The f-I curve was also modulated by physostigmine in many neurons, but persistent spiking was not observed in any of our recordings, even when picrotoxin, a GABAA blocker, was included in the internal solution of the recording pipette to reduce possible effects of network inhibition. These results suggest that intrinsic oscillatory and rate-coding mechanisms, but not intrinsic bistability, are significantly modulated by acetylcholine in the intact entorhinal network.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2611-2627
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Physiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes


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