Abstract

We present a kinetic model that can account for several experimental findings on short- and long-term potentiation (STP and LTP) and their pharmacological modulation. The model, which is consistent with Hebb's postulate, uses the hypothesis that part of the origin of LTP may be a consequence of an increased release of neurotransmitter due to a retrograde signal. The operation of the model is expressed by a set of irreversible reactions, each of which should be thought of as equivalent to a set of more complex reactions. We show that a retrograde signal alone is not sufficient to maintain LTP unless long-term change of the rate constant of some of the reactions is caused by high-frequency stimulation. Pharmacological manipulation of LTP is interpreted as modifications of the rate constants of one or more of the reactions that express a given mechanism. The model, because of its simplicity, can be useful to test more specific mechanisms by expanding one or more reactions as suggested by new experimental evidence.

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