Enhanced synaptic excitation–inhibition ratio in hippocampal interneurons of rats with temporal lobe epilepsy

Authors


Dr A. Draguhn, as above.
E-mail: andreas.draguhn@physiologie.uni-heidelberg.de

Abstract

A common feature of all epileptic syndromes is the repetitive occurrence of pathological patterns of synchronous neuronal activity, usually combined with increased neuronal discharge rates. Inhibitory interneurons of the hippocampal formation control both neuronal synchronization as well as the global level of activity and are therefore of crucial importance for epilepsy. Recent evidence suggests that changes in synaptic inhibition during temporal lobe epilepsy are rather specific, resulting from selective death or alteration of interneurons in specific hippocampal layers. Hence, epilepsy-induced changes have to be analysed separately for different types of interneurons. Here, we focused on GABAergic neurons located at the border between stratum radiatum and stratum lacunosum-moleculare of hippocampal area CA1 (SRL interneurons), which are included in feedforward inhibitory circuits. In chronically epileptic rats at 6–8 months after pilocarpine-induced status epilepticus, frequencies of spontaneous and miniature inhibitory postsynaptic currents were reduced, yielding an almost three-fold increase in excitation–inhibition ratio. Consistently, action potential frequency of SRL interneurons was about two-fold enhanced. Morphological alterations of the interneurons indicate that these functional changes were accompanied by remodelling of the local network, probably resulting in a loss of functional inhibitory synapses without conceivable cell death. Our data indicate a strong increase in activity of interneurons in dendritic layers of the chronically epileptic CA1 region. This alteration may enhance feedforward inhibition and rhythmogenesis and – together with specific changes in other interneurons – contribute to seizure susceptibility and pathological synchronization.

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