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Keywords:

  • adult hippocampal neurogenesis;
  • ectopic granule cells;
  • epilepsy;
  • epileptogenesis;
  • seizures

Abstract

Several factors, including epileptic seizures, can strongly stimulate ongoing neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus. Although adult-born granule cells generated after seizure activity have different physiological properties from their normal counterparts, they integrate into the existing, mature network of the adult hippocampal dentate gyrus. However, the exact role of the neurogenic response during epilepsy and its possible involvement in epileptogenesis have remained elusive. Here, we discuss recent studies shedding new light on the interplay between epilepsy and neurogenesis, and try to explain discrepancies in this literature by proposing seizure severity-dependent induction of two subsets of newborn cells with different properties. We hypothesise that a low seizure intensity would stimulate neurogenesis to a ‘physiological plasticity’ level and have few pathological consequences. In contrast, a high initial seizure intensity may induce a specific subset of altered and/or ectopically located new granule cells with different electrophysiological properties that could initiate hyperexcitatory recurrent networks that could, in turn, contribute to chronic epilepsy. This hypothesis may clarify previously contradictory data in the literature, and could thereby aid in our understanding of the role of neurogenesis in epileptogenesis, and open up promising avenues for therapeutic intervention.