Exposure to stress has previously been found to impair long-term potentiation (LTP) in the hippocampus. Exposure to stress has also been proposed to induce an LTP-like effect. We examined the effect of acute cold stress on synaptic transmission, neuronal excitability, and LTP induction in the medial perforant path-granule cell synapse of freely moving rats. After obtaining baseline recordings of evoked field potentials at room temperature (23°C), rats were transferred to an environmental cage maintained at 4°C (cold group) or 23°C (control group) and, 90 min later, high-frequency stimulation (HFS) was applied to the medial perforant path. Serum corticosterone measured in trunk blood from rats without implanted electrodes was significantly elevated in cold exposed (28.7 μg/dl) rats relative to control (6.6 μg/dl). Despite increased corticosterone levels indicative of stress activation, cold exposed rats exhibited LTP of the fEPSP slope and population spike of similar magnitude and time course as controls. In addition, there was no stress-specific effect on the fEPSP slope or population spike and no effect on paired-pulse plasticity. Surprisingly, despite extensive cage acclimation, transferring rats to the environmental cage was associated with a reduction in population spike amplitude and an enhancement in paired-pulse facilitation. The results show that acute cold stress leading to elevated serum corticosterone levels neither induces LTP- like increases in synaptic efficacy nor impairs tetanus-evoked LTP in the dentate gyms of freely moving rats. Thus, impaired working memory during cold stress is not due to an inability of perforant path synapses to express LTP.
- Long-term potentiation
- Synaptic plasticity