• cortistatin;
  • hippocampal slices;
  • somatostatin analogues;
  • transgenic mice


Somatostatin-14 (SRIF) co-localizes with γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the hippocampus and regulates neuronal excitability. A role of SRIF in the control of seizures has been proposed, although its exact contribution requires some clarification. In particular, SRIF knockout (KO) mice do not exhibit spontaneous seizures, indicating that compensatory changes may occur in KO. In the KO hippocampus, we examined whether specific SRIF receptors and/or the cognate peptide cortistatin-14 (CST) compensate for the absence of SRIF. We found increased levels of both sst2 receptors (sst2) and CST, and we explored the functional consequences of sst2 compensation on bursting activity and synaptic responses in hippocampal slices. Bursting was decreased by SRIF in wild-type (WT) mice, but it was not affected by either CST or sst2 agonist and antagonist. sst4 agonist increased bursting frequency in either WT or KO. In WT, but not in KO, its effects were blocked by agonizing or antagonizing sst2, suggesting that sst2 and sst4 are functionally coupled in the WT hippocampus. Bursting was reduced in KO as compared with WT and was increased upon application of sst2 antagonist, while SRIF, CST and sst2 agonist had no effect. At the synaptic level, we observed that in WT, SRIF decreased excitatory postsynaptic potentials which were, in contrast, increased by sst2 antagonist in KO. We conclude that sst2 compensates for SRIF absence and that its upregulation is responsible for reduced bursting and decreased excitatory transmission in KO mice. We suggest that a critical density of sst2 is needed to control hippocampal activity.