Single cell analysis of activity-dependent cyclic AMP-responsive element-binding protein phosphorylation during long-lasting long-term potentiation in area CA1 of mature rat hippocampal-organotypic cultures

J. K. Leutgeb, J. U. Frey, T. Behnisch

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Phosphorylation of the transcription factor cyclic AMP (cAMP)-response element-binding protein (CREB) has been implicated in long-term synaptic plasticity and memory, and its activation has been proposed to be required for the maintenance of long-term potentiation (LTP). The previously described temporal dynamics of CREB phosphorylation during the maintenance of LTP showed differences between experimental models. In the present study the level of CREB phosphorylation was evaluated in organotypic hippocampal slices from young adult rats (P25-30) after long-lasting LTP was induced. Immunohistochemistry and confocal imaging were used to determine the ratio between non-phosphorylated and phosphorylated CREB at a single cell resolution, revealing not only the temporal dynamics but also the extent of CREB phosphorylation. The activation of CREB after LTP-induction was compared with cAMP-activation after bath application of forskolin. An increase in cAMP by forskolin resulted in a persistent, uniform increase of the phosphorylated CREB (pCREB/CREB immunofluorescence ratio) in all hippocampal principal neurons. In contrast, the induction of long-lasting LTP in CA1 was accompanied by a local increase in the pCREB/CREB ratio. Both CREB activation and LTP induction in mature cultured slices required N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor activation. CREB phosphorylation continued to increase for 4 h during LTP maintenance. This sustained activation is in contrast to previous observations in acutely prepared slices and supports the hypothesis that CREB plays an important role during the late phases of LTP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)601-610
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005



  • Hippocampus
  • L-LTP
  • Synaptic plasticity
  • cAMP response element-binding protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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