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Epilepsy-induced abnormal striatal plasticity in Bassoon mutant mice


Dr Paolo Calabresi, 2Clinica Neurologica, as above.


Recently, the striatum has been implicated in the spread of epileptic seizures. As the absence of functional scaffolding protein Bassoon in mutant mice is associated with the development of pronounced spontaneous seizures, we utilized this new genetic model of epilepsy to investigate seizure-induced changes in striatal synaptic plasticity. Mutant mice showed reduced long-term potentiation in striatal spiny neurons, associated with an altered N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor subunit distribution, whereas GABAergic fast-spiking (FS) interneurons showed NMDA-dependent short-term potentiation that was absent in wild-type animals. Alterations in the dendritic morphology of spiny neurons and in the number of FS interneurons were also observed. Early antiepileptic treatment with valproic acid reduced epileptic attacks and mortality, rescuing physiological striatal synaptic plasticity and NMDA receptor subunit composition. However, morphological alterations were not affected by antiepileptic treatment. Our results indicate that, in Bsn mutant mice, initial morphological alterations seem to reflect a more direct effect of the abnormal genotype, whereas plasticity changes are likely to be caused by the occurrence of repeated cortical seizures.