Behavioural Brain Research;Volume 360, 15 March 2019
Glutamatergic α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptors (AMPARs) carry the bulk of excitatory synaptic transmission. Their modulation plays key roles in synaptic plasticity, which underlies hippocampal learning and memory. A dysfunctional glutamatergic system may negatively affect learning abilities and underlie symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The aim of this study was to investigate whether the expression and function of AMPARs were altered in ADHD. We recorded AMPAR mediated synaptic transmission at hippocampal excitatory synapses and quantified immunogold labelling density of AMPAR subunits GluA1 and GluA2/3 in a rat model for ADHD; the spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR). Electrophysiological recordings showed significantly reduced AMPAR mediated synaptic transmission at the CA3-to-CA1 pyramidal cell synapses in stratum radiatum and stratum oriens in SHRs compared to control rats. Electronmicroscopic immunogold quantifications did not show any statistically significant changes in labelling densities of the GluA1 subunit of the AMPAR on dendritic spines in stratum radiatum or in stratum oriens. However, there was a significant increase of the GluA2/3 subunit intracellularly in stratum oriens in SHR compared to control, interpreted as a compensatory effect. The proportion of synapses lacking AMPAR subunit labelling was the same in the two genotypes. In addition, electronmicroscopic examination of tissue morphology showed the density of this type of synapse (i.e., asymmetric synapses on spines), and the average size of the synaptic membranes, to be the same. AMPAR dysfunction, possibly involving molecular changes, in hippocampus may in part reflect altered learning in individuals with ADHD.