Changes in neuronal synchronization have been found in patients and animal models of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Synchronized behaviors within neuronal networks are important to such complex cognitive processes as working memory. The mechanisms behind these changes are not understood but may involve the action of soluble beta-amyloid (Abeta) on electrical networks. In order to determine if Abeta can induce changes in neuronal synchronization, the activities of pyramidal neurons were recorded in rat prefrontal cortical (PFC) slices under calcium-free conditions using multi-neuron patch clamp technique. Electrical network activities and synchronization among neurons were significantly inhibited by low dose Abeta42 (1 nM) and initially by high dose Abeta42 (500 nM). However, prolonged application of high dose Abeta42 resulted in network activation and tonic firing. Underlying these observations, we discovered that prolonged application of low and high doses of Abeta42 induced opposite changes in action potential (AP)-threshold and after-hyperpolarization (AHP) of neurons. Accordingly, low dose Abeta42 significantly increased the AP-threshold and deepened the AHP, making neurons less excitable. In contrast, high dose Abeta42 significantly reduced the AP-threshold and shallowed the AHP, making neurons more excitable. These results support a model that low dose Abeta42 released into the interstitium has a physiologic feedback role to dampen electrical network activity by reducing neuronal excitability. Higher concentrations of Abeta42 over time promote supra-synchronization between individual neurons by increasing their excitability. The latter may disrupt frontal-based cognitive processing and in some cases lead to epileptiform discharges.
Wang, Y., Zhang, G., Zhou, H., Barakat, A., & Querfurth, H. (2009). Opposite effects of low and high doses of Aβ42 on electrical network and neuronal excitability in the rat prefrontal cortex. PLoS ONE, 4(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0008366