Summary: Purpose: Mice carrying a deletion of the GALR1 galanin receptor have recently showed spontaneous seizure phenotype with 25% penetrance. To better understand the role of neuropeptides, which are known to undergo complex plasticity changes with development of epileptic seizures, we characterized their expression in the hippocampal formation in GALR1- knockout (-KO) mice with or without seizures and in wild-type (WT) mice.
Methods: Immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization were used to study expression of galanin, neuropeptide Y (NPY), substance P, enkephalin, dynorphin, and cholecystokinin (CCK).
Results: In GALR1-KO mice that had been displaying seizures, a strong upregulation of galanin immunoreactivity (ir) and messenger RNA (mRNA) was found in the polymorph layer of the dentate gyrus; galanin-ir also appeared in a dense fiber network in the supragranular layer. A strong upregulation of enkephalin was found in the granule cells/mossy fibers, whereas dynorphin mRNA levels were modestly decreased. NPY was strongly expressed in the granule cells/mossy fibers, and an increase of NPY mRNA levels in the polymorph cells was paralleled by an increase of NPY-ir in the molecular layer. An upregulation of substance P-ir was confined to the fibers in the granule and molecular layers, whereas substance P mRNA was increased in the cells of the polymorph layer. Both CCK-ir and mRNA were strongly downregulated in the granule cell/mossy fiber system, but CCK-ir appeared increased in the supragranular and molecular layers. No changes in neuropeptide-ir were found in GALR1-KO mice not displaying seizures.
Conclusions: Complex changes in neuropeptide expression in some principal hippocampal neurons and interneurons appear as a characteristic feature of the spontaneous-seizure phenotype in GALR1-KO mice. However, to what extent causal relations exist between this “epilepsia peptidergic profile” and development of seizures requires further clarification.