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    Most excitatory synapses in the brain form on dendritic spines. Two-photon uncaging of glutamate is widely utilized to characterize the structural plasticity of dendritic spines in brain slice preparations in vitro. In the present study, glutamate uncaging was used to investigate spine plasticity, for the first time, in vivo. A caged glutamate compound was applied to the surface of the mouse visual cortex in vivo, revealing the successful induction of spine enlargement by repetitive two-photon uncaging in a magnesium free solution. Notably, this induction occurred in a smaller fraction of spines in the neocortex in vivo (22%) than in hippocampal slices (95%). Once induced, the time course and mean long-term enlargement amplitudes were similar to those found in hippocampal slices. However, low-frequency (1-2 Hz) glutamate uncaging in the presence of magnesium caused spine shrinkage in a similar fraction (35%) of spines as in hippocampal slices, though spread to neighboring spines occurred less frequently than it did in hippocampal slices. Thus, the structural plasticity may occur similarly in the neocortex in vivo as in hippocampal slices, although it happened less frequently in our experimental conditions.


    Jun Noguchi, Akira Nagaoka, Tatsuya Hayama, Hasan Ucar, Sho Yagishita, Noriko Takahashi, Haruo Kasai. Bidirectional in vivo structural dendritic spine plasticity revealed by two-photon glutamate uncaging in the mouse neocortex. Scientific reports. 2019 Sep 26;9(1):13922

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    PMID: 31558759

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