Optic nerve stimulation caused a postsynaptic field potential in the rat suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of hypothalamic slices. In the present experiment, we demonstrated whether tetanic stimulation of optic nerve can produce a long-term potentiation (LTP) in the SCN postsynaptic field potential. The amplitude of SCN field potential was higher in the subjective day animals than that in the subjective night animals. Tetanic stimulation of optic nerve (100 Hz, 1 s) at subjective daytime (projected zeitgeber time: ZT 0-8) produced a LTP in this field potential, although the onset of LTP was slow. When tetanic stimulation was applied at ZT4, the percent increase of amplitude was 116.6% immediately after, 159.8% 30 min after and 215.4% 120 min after tetanic stimulation, whereas tetanic stimulation of optic nerve at subjective night-time caused a weak LTP in the SCN. Although tetanic stimulation of Schaffer collaterals induced a LTP formation in the CA1 region of rat hippocampal slices, there were no obvious circadian changes in this LTP formation. The present results demonstrated that excitatory influence on the SCN caused a synaptic plasticity such as LTP. Although the physiological meaning of this LTP is uncertain at present, LTP may be related to adaptation mechanism to photic stimulation.
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