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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 489470, 6 pages
Review Article

Mechanisms of GABAergic Homeostatic Plasticity

Department of Physiology, Emory University, School of Medicine, 615 Michael Street, Room 601, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA

Received 1 March 2011; Accepted 25 April 2011

Academic Editor: Evelyne Sernagor

Copyright © 2011 Peter Wenner. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Homeostatic plasticity ensures that appropriate levels of activity are maintained through compensatory adjustments in synaptic strength and cellular excitability. For instance, excitatory glutamatergic synapses are strengthened following activity blockade and weakened following increases in spiking activity. This form of plasticity has been described in a wide array of networks at several different stages of development, but most work and reviews have focussed on the excitatory inputs of excitatory neurons. Here we review homeostatic plasticity of GABAergic neurons and their synaptic connections. We propose a simplistic model for homeostatic plasticity of GABAergic components of the circuitry (GABAergic synapses onto excitatory neurons, excitatory connections onto GABAergic neurons, cellular excitability of GABAergic neurons): following chronic activity blockade there is a weakening of GABAergic inhibition, and following chronic increases in network activity there is a strengthening of GABAergic inhibition. Previous work on GABAergic homeostatic plasticity supports certain aspects of the model, but it is clear that the model cannot fully account for some results which do not appear to fit any simplistic rule. We consider potential reasons for these discrepancies.