Pregnenolone sulfate enhances spontaneous glutamate release by inducing presynaptic Ca2+-induced Ca2+ release.Neuroscience 2010; 171(1):106-16N
Pregnenolone sulfate (PS) acts as an excitatory neuromodulator and has a variety of neuropharmacological actions, such as memory enhancement and convulsant effects. In the present study, we investigated the effect of PS on glutamatergic spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic currents (sEPSCs) in acutely isolated dentate gyrus (DG) hilar neurons by use of a conventional whole-cell patch-clamp technique. PS significantly increased sEPSC frequency in a concentration-dependent manner without affecting the current amplitude, suggesting that PS acts presynaptically to increase the probability of spontaneous glutamate release. However, known molecular targets of PS, such as α7 nicotinic ACh, NMDA, σ1 receptors and voltage-dependent Ca(2+) channels, were not responsible for the PS-induced increase in sEPSC frequency. In contrast, the PS-induced increase in sEPSC frequency was completely occluded in a Ca(2+)-free external solution, and was significantly reduced by either the depletion of presynaptic Ca(2+) stores or the blockade of ryanodine receptors, suggesting that PS elicits Ca(2+)-induced Ca(2+) release (CICR) within glutamatergic nerve terminals. In addition, the PS-induced increase in sEPSC frequency was completely occluded by transient receptor potential (TRP) channel blockers. These data suggest that PS increases spontaneous glutamate release onto acutely isolated hilar neurons via presynaptic CICR, which was triggered by the influx of Ca(2+) through presynaptic TRP channels. The PS-induced modulation of excitatory transmission onto hilar neurons could have a broad impact on the excitability of hilar neurons and affect the pathophysiological functions mediated by the hippocampus.