To the extent possible under law, AOP-Wiki has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to KE:758

Event: 758

Key Event Title

The KE title should describe a discrete biological change that can be measured. It should generally define the biological object or process being measured and whether it is increased, decreased, or otherwise definably altered relative to a control state. For example “enzyme activity, decreased”, “hormone concentration, increased”, or “growth rate, decreased”, where the specific enzyme or hormone being measured is defined. More help

Hippocampal Physiology, Altered

Short name
The KE short name should be a reasonable abbreviation of the KE title and is used in labelling this object throughout the AOP-Wiki. The short name should be less than 80 characters in length. More help
Hippocampal Physiology, Altered

Biological Context

Structured terms, selected from a drop-down menu, are used to identify the level of biological organization for each KE. Note, KEs should be defined within a particular level of biological organization. Only KERs should be used to transition from one level of organization to another. Selection of the level of biological organization defines which structured terms will be available to select when defining the Event Components (below). More help

Organ term

Further information on Event Components and Biological Context may be viewed on the attached pdf.The biological context describes the location/biological environment in which the event takes place.  For molecular/cellular events this would include the cellular context (if known), organ context, and species/life stage/sex for which the event is relevant. For tissue/organ events cellular context is not applicable.  For individual/population events, the organ context is not applicable. More help
Organ term

Key Event Components

Further information on Event Components and Biological Context may be viewed on the attached pdf.Because one of the aims of the AOP-KB is to facilitate de facto construction of AOP networks through the use of shared KE and KER elements, authors are also asked to define their KEs using a set of structured ontology terms (Event Components). In the absence of structured terms, the same KE can readily be defined using a number of synonymous titles (read by a computer as character strings). In order to make these synonymous KEs more machine-readable, KEs should also be defined by one or more “event components” consisting of a biological process, object, and action with each term originating from one of 22 biological ontologies (Ives, et al., 2017; See List). Biological process describes dynamics of the underlying biological system (e.g., receptor signalling). The biological object is the subject of the perturbation (e.g., a specific biological receptor that is activated or inhibited). Action represents the direction of perturbation of this system (generally increased or decreased; e.g., ‘decreased’ in the case of a receptor that is inhibited to indicate a decrease in the signalling by that receptor).Note that when editing Event Components, clicking an existing Event Component from the Suggestions menu will autopopulate these fields, along with their source ID and description. To clear any fields before submitting the event component, use the 'Clear process,' 'Clear object,' or 'Clear action' buttons. If a desired term does not exist, a new term request may be made via Term Requests. Event components may not be edited; to edit an event component, remove the existing event component and create a new one using the terms that you wish to add. More help
Process Object Action
chemical synaptic transmission synapse abnormal

Key Event Overview

AOPs Including This Key Event

All of the AOPs that are linked to this KE will automatically be listed in this subsection. This table can be particularly useful for derivation of AOP networks including the KE. Clicking on the name of the AOP will bring you to the individual page for that AOP. More help
AOP Name Role of event in AOP Point of Contact Author Status OECD Status
TPO Inhibition and Altered Neurodevelopment KeyEvent Kevin Crofton (send email) Open for citation & comment TFHA/WNT Endorsed
Nuclear receptor induced TH Catabolism and Developmental Hearing Loss KeyEvent Katie Paul Friedman (send email) Not under active development Under Development
NIS and Cognitive Dysfunction KeyEvent Mary Gilbert (send email) Under Development: Contributions and Comments Welcome
Transthyretin interference KeyEvent Erik Janus (send email) Open for adoption Under Development
TR Antagonism and DNT KeyEvent Kevin Crofton (send email) Under development: Not open for comment. Do not cite Under Development


This is a structured field used to identify specific agents (generally chemicals) that can trigger the KE. Stressors identified in this field will be linked to the KE in a machine-readable manner, such that, for example, a stressor search would identify this as an event the stressor can trigger. NOTE: intermediate or downstream KEs in one AOP may function as MIEs in other AOPs, meaning that stressor information may be added to the KE description, even if it is a downstream KE in the pathway currently under development.Information concerning the stressors that may trigger an MIE can be defined using a combination of structured and unstructured (free-text) fields. For example, structured fields may be used to indicate specific chemicals for which there is evidence of an interaction relevant to this MIE. By linking the KE description to a structured chemical name, it will be increasingly possible to link the MIE to other sources of chemical data and information, enhancing searchability and inter-operability among different data-sources and knowledgebases. The free-text section “Evidence for perturbation of this MIE by stressor” can be used both to identify the supporting evidence for specific stressors triggering the MIE as well as to define broad chemical categories or other properties that classify the stressors able to trigger the MIE for which specific structured terms may not exist. More help

Taxonomic Applicability

Latin or common names of a species or broader taxonomic grouping (e.g., class, order, family) can be selected from an ontology. In many cases, individual species identified in these structured fields will be those for which the strongest evidence used in constructing the AOP was available in relation to this KE. More help
Term Scientific Term Evidence Link
human Homo sapiens Moderate NCBI
rat Rattus norvegicus High NCBI
mouse Mus musculus High NCBI

Life Stages

The structured ontology terms for life-stage are more comprehensive than those for taxa, but may still require further description/development and explanation in the free text section. More help
Life stage Evidence
During brain development High

Sex Applicability

No help message More help
Term Evidence
Female High
Male High

Key Event Description

A description of the biological state being observed or measured, the biological compartment in which it is measured, and its general role in the biology should be provided. For example, the biological state being measured could be the activity of an enzyme, the expression of a gene or abundance of an mRNA transcript, the concentration of a hormone or protein, neuronal activity, heart rate, etc. The biological compartment may be a particular cell type, tissue, organ, fluid (e.g., plasma, cerebrospinal fluid), etc. The role in the biology could describe the reaction that an enzyme catalyses and the role of that reaction within a given metabolic pathway; the protein that a gene or mRNA transcript codes for and the function of that protein; the function of a hormone in a given target tissue, physiological function of an organ, etc. Careful attention should be taken to avoid reference to other KEs, KERs or AOPs. Only describe this KE as a single isolated measurable event/state. This will ensure that the KE is modular and can be used by other AOPs, thereby facilitating construction of AOP networks. More help

The hippocampus functions as a highly integrated and organized communication and information processing network with millions of interconnections among its constitutive neurons. Neurons in the hippocampus and throughout the brain transmit and receive information largely through chemical transmission across the synaptic cleft, the space where the specialized ending of the presynaptic axon terminus of the transmitting neuron meets the specialized postsynaptic region of the neuron that is receiving that information (Kandell et al., 2012).

During development (see KE: Hippocampal anatomy, Altered), as neurons reach their final destination and extend axonal processes, early patterns of electrical synaptic activity emerge in the hippocampus. These are large fields of axonal innervation of broad synaptic target sites that are replaced by more elaborate but highly targeted and refined axonal projections brought about by activity-dependent synaptic pruning and synapse elimination.  This is a classic case of the interaction between physiological and anatomical development, where anatomy develops first, and can be ‘reshaped’ by physiological function (Kutsarova et al., 2017).

In the rat, excitatory processes are fully mature in area CA1 of hippocampus within 2 weeks of birth with inhibitory processes lagging begin by several weeks (Muller et al., 1989; Michelson and Lothman, 1988; Harris and Teyler, 1984). In hippocampal slices, inhibitory function in areaCA1s is first seen on postnatal day 5 and increases in strength at postnatal day 12 through 15.  In vivo studies fail to detect inhibition until postnatal day 18 with steady increase thereafter to adult levels by postnatal day 28. Synaptic plasticity in the form of long-term potentiation (LTP) is absent in the very young animal, only emerging about postnatal day 14, appearing to require the stability of both excitatory and inhibitory function to be established (Muller et al., 1989; Bekenstein and Lothman, 1991). These features of the maturation of hippocampal physiology are paralleled in dentate gyrus, but as with anatomical indices in the rat, the development of these physiological parameters lag behind the CA1 by about 1 week. 

How It Is Measured or Detected

One of the primary considerations in evaluating AOPs is the relevance and reliability of the methods with which the KEs can be measured. The aim of this section of the KE description is not to provide detailed protocols, but rather to capture, in a sentence or two, per method, the type(s) of measurements that can be employed to evaluate the KE and the relative level of scientific confidence in those measurements. Methods that can be used to detect or measure the biological state represented in the KE should be briefly described and/or cited. These can range from citation of specific validated test guidelines, citation of specific methods published in the peer reviewed literature, or outlines of a general protocol or approach (e.g., a protein may be measured by ELISA).Key considerations regarding scientific confidence in the measurement approach include whether the assay is fit for purpose, whether it provides a direct or indirect measure of the biological state in question, whether it is repeatable and reproducible, and the extent to which it is accepted in the scientific and/or regulatory community. Information can be obtained from the OECD Test Guidelines website and the EURL ECVAM Database Service on Alternative Methods to Animal Experimentation (DB-ALM). ?

In animals, synaptic function in the hippocampus has been examined with imaging techniques, but more routinely, electrical field potentials recorded in two subregions of the hippocampus, area CA1 and dentate gyrus, have been assessed in vivo or in vitro from slices taken from naive or exposed animals. Field potentials reflect the summed synaptic response of a population of neurons following direct stimulation of input pathways across a monosynaptic connection. Changes in response amplitude due to chemical perturbations and other stressors (e.g., iodine deficiency, thyroidectomy, gene knockouts) is evidence of altered synaptic function. This can be measured in vitro, in vivo, or in hippocampal slices taken from treated animals (Gilbert and Burdette, 1995). The most common physiological measurements used to assess function of the hippocampus are excitatory synaptic transmission, inhibitory synaptic transmission, and synaptic plasticity in the form of long-term potentiation (LTP).

Excitatory Synaptic Transmission: Two measures, the excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP) and the population spike are derived from the compound field potential at increasing stimulus strengths. The function described by the relationship of current strength (input, I) and evoked response (output, O), the I-O curve is the measure of excitatory synaptic transmission (Gilbert and Burdette, 1995).

Inhibitory Synaptic Transmission: Pairs of stimulus pulses delivered in close temporal proximity is used to probe the integrity of inhibitory synaptic transmission. The response evoked by the second pulse of the pair at brief intervals (<30 msec) arrives during the activation of feedback inhibitory loops in the hippocampus. An alteration in the degree of suppression to the 2nd pulse of the pair reflects altered inhibitory synaptic function (Gilbert and Burdette, 1995).

Long Term Potentiation (LTP): LTP is widely accepted to be a major component of the cellular processes that underlie learning and memory (Malenka and Bear, 2004; Bramham and Messaoudi, 2005). LTP represents, at the synapse and molecular level, the coincident firing of large numbers of neurons that are engaged during a learning event. The persistence of LTP emulates the duration of the memory. Synaptic plasticity in the form of LTP is assessed by delivering trains of high frequency stimulation to induce a prolonged augmentation of synaptic response. Probe stimuli at midrange stimulus strengths are delivered before and after application of LTP-inducing trains. The degree of increase in EPSP and PS amplitude to the probe stimulus after train application, and the duration of the induced synaptic enhancement are metrics of LTP. Additionally, contrasting I-O functions of excitatory synaptic transmission before and after (hours to days) LTP is induced is also a common measure of LTP maintanence (Bramham and Messaoudi, 2005; Kandell et al., 2012; Malenka and Bear, 2004).

Synaptic function in the human hippocampus has been assessed using electroencephalography (EEG) and functional neuroimaging techniques (Clapp et al., 2012). EEG is a measure of electrical activity over many brain regions but primarily from the cortex using small flat metal discs (electrodes) placed over the surface of the skull. It is a readily available test that provides evidence of how the brain functions over time. Functional magnetic resonance imaging or functional MRI (fMRI) uses MRI technology to measure brain activity by detecting associated changes in blood flow. This technique relies on the fact that cerebral blood flow and neuronal activation are coupled. Positron emission tomography (PET) is a functional imaging technique that detects pairs of gamma rays emitted indirectly by a radionuclide (tracer) injected into the body (Tietze, 2012; McCarthy, 1995). Like fMRI, PET scans indirectly measure blood flow to different parts of the brain – the higher the blood flow, the greater the activation (McCarthy, 1995). These techniques have been widely applied in clinical and research settings to assess learning and memory in humans and can provide information targeted to hippocampal functionality (McCarthy, 1995; Smith and Jonides, 1997; Willoughby et al., 2014; Wheeler et al., 2015; Gilbert et al., 1998).

Assays of this type are fit for purpose, have been well accepted in the literature, and are reproducible across laboratories. The assay directly measures the key event of altered neurophysiological function.

Domain of Applicability

This free text section should be used to elaborate on the scientific basis for the indicated domains of applicability and the WoE calls (if provided). While structured terms may be selected to define the taxonomic, life stage and sex applicability (see structured applicability terms, above) of the KE, the structured terms may not adequately reflect or capture the overall biological applicability domain (particularly with regard to taxa). Likewise, the structured terms do not provide an explanation or rationale for the selection. The free-text section on evidence for taxonomic, life stage, and sex applicability can be used to elaborate on why the specific structured terms were selected, and provide supporting references and background information.  More help

The majority of evidence for this key event come from work in rodent species (i.e., rat, mouse). There is a moderate amount of evidence from other species, including humans (Clapp et al., 2012).

Evidence for Perturbation by Stressor


List of the literature that was cited for this KE description. Ideally, the list of references, should conform, to the extent possible, with the OECD Style Guide ( (OECD, 2015). More help

Bekenstein JW, Lothman EW. An in vivo study of the ontogeny of long-term potentiation (LTP) in the CA1 region and in the dentate gyrus of the rat hippocampal formation. Brain Res Dev Brain Res. 1991 Nov 19;63(1-2):245-

Bramham CR, Messaoudi E (2005) BDNF function in adult synaptic plasticity: the synaptic consolidation hypothesis. Prog Neurobiol 76:99-125.

Clapp WC, Hamm JP, Kirk IJ, Teyler TJ. Translating long-term potentiation from animals to humans: a novel method for noninvasive assessment of cortical plasticity. Biol Psychiatry. 2012 Mar 15;71(6):496-502.

Gilbert, M.E. and Burdette, L.J. (1995). Hippocampal Field Potentials: A Model System to Characterize Neurotoxicity. In Neurotoxicology: Approaches and Methods. L.W Chang and W. Slikker (Eds). Academic Press:New York, 183-204.

Gilbert ME, Mack CM. Chronic lead exposure accelerates decay of long-term potentiation in rat dentate gyrus in vivo. Brain Res. 1998 Apr 6;789(1):139-49.

Harris KM, Teyler TJ. Developmental onset of long-term potentiation in area CA1 of the rat hippocampus. J Physiol. 1984. 346:27-48.

Kandell, E., Schwartz, J., Siegelbaum, A. and Hudspeth, A.J.  (2012) Principles of Neural Science, 5th Edition.  Elsevier, North Holland.

Kutsarova E, Munz M, Ruthazer ES.  Rules for Shaping Neural Connections in the Developing Brain.  Front Neural Circuits. 2017 Jan 10;10:111. doi: 10.3389/fncir.2016.00111.

Malenka RC, Bear MF (2004) LTP and LTD: an embarrassment of riches. Neuron 44:5-21.

McCarthy, G. (1995) Review: Functional Neuroimaging and Memory. The Neuroscientist, 1:155-163.

Michelson HB, Lothman EW. An in vivo electrophysiological study of the ontogeny of excitatory and inhibitory processes in the rat hippocampus. Brain Res Dev Brain Res. 1989 May 1;47(1):113-22.

Muller D, Oliver M, Lynch G. Developmental changes in synaptic properties in hippocampus of neonatal rats. Brain Res Dev Brain Res. 1989 Sep 1;49(1):105-14.

Smith, E and Jonides, J. (1997). Working Memory: A View from Neuroimaging. Cognitive Psychology, 33:5-42.

Tietze, KJ. (2012). Review of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests- Positron Emission Tomography. In Clinical Sills for Pharmacists, 3rd Edition, pp 86-122. 

Wheeler SM, McLelland VC, Sheard E, McAndrews MP, Rovet JF (2015) Hippocampal Functioning and Verbal Associative Memory in Adolescents with Congenital Hypothyroidism. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne) 6:163.

Willoughby KA, McAndrews MP, Rovet JF (2014) Effects of maternal hypothyroidism on offspring hippocampus and memory. Thyroid 24:576-584.