Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Hebbian plasticity is thought to require glutamate signalling. We show this is not the case for hippocampal presynaptic long-term potentiation (LTPpre), which is expressed as an increase in transmitter release probability (Pr). We find that LTPpre can be induced by pairing pre- and postsynaptic spiking in the absence of glutamate signalling. LTPpre induction involves a non-canonical mechanism of retrograde nitric oxide signalling, which is triggered by Ca2+ influx from L-type voltage-gated Ca2+ channels, not postsynaptic NMDA receptors (NMDARs), and does not require glutamate release. When glutamate release occurs, it decreases Pr by activating presynaptic NMDARs, and promotes presynaptic long-term depression. Net changes in Pr, therefore, depend on two opposing factors: (1) Hebbian activity, which increases Pr, and (2) glutamate release, which decreases Pr. Accordingly, release failures during Hebbian activity promote LTPpre induction. Our findings reveal a novel framework of presynaptic plasticity that radically differs from traditional models of postsynaptic plasticity.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





L-type voltage gated Ca2+ channels, LTD, LTP, NMDA receptors, mouse, neuroscience, nitric oxide, presynaptic plasticity, rat