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Soluble Aβ1-40 Peptide Increases Excitatory Neurotransmission and Induces Epileptiform Activity in Hippocampal Neurons


It is believed that amyloid-β peptide (Aβ), in its aggregated-oligomeric state, constitutes one of the neurotoxic factors involved in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. With the objective of studying a potential role of the peptide on synaptic transmission, we studied the effect of soluble Aβ1-40 on synaptic transmission in rat hippocampal neurons. Neurons incubated with 500 nM of Aβ1-40 peptide for 3 days presented higher levels of intracellular calcium transients, as evaluated by fluorimetric techniques. These effects of Aβ were time and concentration dependent and were accompanied by increases in glutamatergic (0.8 ± 0.2 Hz to 2.9 ± 0.6 Hz), but not GABAergic, transmission. The analysis of pharmacologically isolated currents in treated neurons showed increases in both AMPA- and NMDA-mediated currents as compared to control. The effects of the peptide on the frequency of synaptic currents correlated well with increases in the number of SV2 puncta and of FM1-43 destaining, suggesting a presynaptic locus for the peptide. The data also shows that application of either Aβ or bicuculline alone for 24 h was without effects on neurotransmission. However, their co-application induced an increase in synaptic transmission which was accompanied by synchronous discharges reminiscent to those produced by pro-convulsive drugs, such as bicuculline. In conclusion, these results suggest that the soluble form of Aβ1-40 participates in the regulation of synaptic transmission increasing excitability and producing a pre epileptogenic state in hippocampal neurons.