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Synaptic inhibition in the amygdala actively participates in processing emotional information. To improve the understanding of interneurons in amygdala networks it is necessary to characterize the GABAergic cell types, their connectivity and physiological roles. We used a mouse line expressing a green fluorescent protein (GFP) under the neuropeptide Y (NPY) promoter. Paired recordings between presynaptic NPY-GFP-expressing (+) cells and postsynaptic principal neurons (PNs) of the basolateral amygdala (BLA) were performed. The NPY-GFP+ neurons displayed small somata and short dendrites embedded in a cloud of highly arborized axon, suggesting a neurogliaform cell (NGFC) type. We discovered that a NPY-GFP+ cell evoked a GABA(A) receptor-mediated slow inhibitory postsynaptic current (IPSC) in a PN and an autaptic IPSC. The slow kinetics of these IPSCs was likely caused by the low concentration and spillover of extracellular GABA. We also report that NGFCs of the BLA fired action potentials phase-locked to hippocampal theta oscillations in anaesthetized rats. When this firing was re-played in NPY+-NGFCs in vitro, it evoked a transient depression of the IPSCs. Presynaptic GABA(B) receptors and functional depletion of synaptic vesicles determined this short-term plasticity. Synaptic contacts made by recorded NGFCs showed close appositions, and rarely identifiable classical synaptic structures. Thus, we report here a novel interneuron type of the amygdala that generates volume transmission of GABA. The peculiar functional mode of NGFCs makes them unique amongst all GABAergic cell types of the amygdala identified so far.

Original publication




Journal article


J Physiol

Publication Date





5611 - 5627


Action Potentials, Amygdala, Animals, Axons, Dendrites, GABA Antagonists, GABAergic Neurons, Inhibitory Postsynaptic Potentials, Interneurons, Neuronal Plasticity, Rats, Synapses, Synaptic Transmission, Theta Rhythm, gamma-Aminobutyric Acid