Postnatal differentiation of cortical interneuron signalling.
Most GABAergic interneurons in the cortex are born at embryonic stages in the ganglionic eminences and migrate tangentially to their final destination. They continue, however, to differentiate and functionally integrate in the circuitry until later postnatal stages of the rodent brain. Recent investigations show that interneurons undergo marked changes in their morphological, intrinsic and synaptic properties as they mature. Action potential shape and its propagation, the period of transmitter release and the time course of the postsynaptic GABA(A) receptor-mediated conductance become faster during the first three to four postnatal weeks, resulting in a developmental switch of interneurons from slow to fast signalling units. At the same time, the nature of GABAergic signalling is classically considered to shift from depolarizing to hyperpolarizing. However, recent studies oppose this view as interneuron synapses can be shunting, excitatory or hyperpolarizing in the mature cortex, demonstrating the coexistence of diverse developmental rules for the emerging effects of GABAergic synapses. Thus, mature interneuron signalling comes in many forms and is apparently optimized to the network in which the neurons are embedded. © 2011 The Authors. European Journal of Neuroscience © 2011 Federation of European Neuroscience Societies and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.