Hippocampal synaptic plasticity, particularly in the Schaffer collateral (SC) to CA1 pyramidal excitatory transmission, is considered as the cellular mechanism underlying learning. The CA1 pyramidal neurons are embedded in an intricate local circuitry that contains a variety of interneurons. The roles these interneurons play in the regulation of the excitatory synaptic plasticity remains largely understudied. Our recent experiments showed that repeated cholinergic activation of 7 nACh receptors expressed in oriens-lacunosum-moleculare (OLM2) interneurons could induce LTP in SC-CA1 synapses, likely through disinhibition by inhibiting stratum radiatum (s.r.) interneurons that provide feedforward inhibition onto CA1 pyramidal neurons, revealing a potential mechanism for local interneurons to regulate SC-CA1 synaptic plasticity. Here, we pair in vitro studies with biophysically-based modeling to uncover the mechanisms through which cholinergic-activated GABAergic interneurons can disinhibit CA1 pyramidal cells, and how repeated disinhibition modulates hippocampal plasticity at the excitatory synapses. We found that 7 nAChR activation increases OLM activity. OLM neurons, in turn inhibit the fast-spiking interneurons that provide feedforward inhibition onto CA1 pyramidal neurons. This disinhibition, paired with tightly timed SC stimulation, can induce potentiation at the excitatory synapses of CA1 pyramidal neurons. Our work further describes the pairing of disinhibition with SC stimulation as a general mechanism for the induction of hippocampal synaptic plasticity. Disinhibition of the excitatory synapses, paired with SC stimulation, leads to increased NMDAR activation and intracellular calcium concentration sufficient to upregulate AMPAR permeability and potentiate the synapse. Repeated paired disinhibition of the excitatory synapse leads to larger and longer lasting increases of the AMPAR permeability. Our study thus provides a novel mechanism for inhibitory interneurons to directly modify glutamatergic synaptic plasticity. In particular, we show how cholinergic action on OLM interneurons can down-regulate the GABAergic signaling onto CA1 pyramidal cells, and how this shapes local plasticity rules. We identify paired disinhibition with SC stimulation as a general mechanism for the induction of hippocampal synaptic plasticity.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience