Ascorbic Acid Reduces Neurotransmission, Synaptic Plasticity, and Spontaneous Hippocampal Rhythms in In Vitro Slices

Segewkal H. Heruye, Ted J. Warren, Joseph A. Kostansek, Samantha B. Draves, Stephanie A. Matthews, Peter J. West, Kristina A. Simeone, Timothy A. Simeone

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Ascorbic acid (AA; a.k.a. vitamin C) is well known for its cellular protection in environments of high oxidative stress. Even though physiological concentrations of AA in the brain are significant (0.2–10 mM), surprisingly little is known concerning the role of AA in synaptic neurotransmission under normal, non-disease state conditions. Here, we examined AA effects on neurotransmission, plasticity and spontaneous network activity (i.e., sharp waves and high frequency oscillations; SPW-HFOs), at the synapse between area 3 and 1 of the hippocampal cornu ammonis region (CA3 and CA1) using an extracellular multi-electrode array in in vitro mouse hippocampal slices. We found that AA decreased evoked field potentials (fEPSPs, IC50 = 0.64 mM) without affecting V50s or paired pulse facilitation indicating normal neurotransmitter release mechanisms. AA decreased presynaptic fiber volleys but did not change fiber volley-to-fEPSP coupling, suggesting reduced fEPSPs resulted from decreased fiber volleys. Inhibitory effects were also observed in CA1 stratum pyramidale where greater fEPSPs were required for population spikes in the presence of AA suggesting an impact on the intrinsic excitability of neurons. Other forms of synaptic plasticity and correlates of memory (i.e., short-and long-term potentiation) were also significantly reduced by AA as was the incidence of spontaneous SPW-HFOs. AA decreased SPW amplitude with a similar IC50 as fEPSPs (0.65 mM). Overall, these results indicate that under normal conditions AA significantly regulates neurotransmission, plasticity, and network activity by limiting excitability. Thus, AA may participate in refinement of signal processing and memory formation, as well as protecting against pathologic excitability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number613
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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