Synaptic vesicle pool size, release probability and synaptic depression are sensitive to Ca2+ buffering capacity in the developing rat calyx of held

R. M. Leão, H. von Gersdorff

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22 Scopus citations


The calyx of Held, a specialized synaptic terminal in the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body, undergoes a series of changes during postnatal development that prepares this synapse for reliable high frequency firing. These changes reduce short-term synaptic depression during tetanic stimulation and thereby prevent action potential failures during a stimulus train. We measured presynaptic membrane capacitance changes in calyces from young postnatal day 5-7 (p5-7) or older (p10-12) rat pups to examine the effect of calcium buffer capacity on vesicle pool size and the efficiency of exocytosis. Vesicle pool size was sensitive to the choice and concentration of exogenous Ca2+ buffer, and this sensitivity was much stronger in younger animals. Pool size and exocytosis efficiency in p5-7 calyces were depressed by 0.2 mM EGTA to a greater extent than with 0.05 mM BAPTA, even though BAPTA is a 100-fold faster Ca2+ buffer. However, this was not the case for p10-12 calyces. With 5 mM EGTA, exocytosis efficiency was reduced to a much larger extent in young calyces compared to older calyces. Depression of exocytosis using pairs of 10-ms depolarizations was reduced by 0.2 mM EGTA compared to 0.05 mM BAPTA to a similar extent in both age groups. These results indicate a developmentally regulated heterogeneity in the sensitivity of different vesicle pools to Ca2+ buffer capacity. We propose that, during development, a population of vesicles that are tightly coupled to Ca2+ channels expands at the expense of vesicles more distant from Ca2+ channels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-104
Number of pages11
JournalBrazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009


  • Calcium buffer
  • Calyx of held
  • Capacitance measurements
  • Mammalian auditory brainstem
  • Neurotransmission
  • Synaptic development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)
  • Cell Biology


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