In focal epilepsy the propagation of seizure discharges arising at restricted brain sites is opposed by feedforward inhibition. Failure of this inhibition marks focal seizure propagation to distant neurons.
The cellular source of inhibition and the mechanism of inhibition failure are, however, undefined.
Here we reveal that a subclass of GABAergic interneurons, i.e. the parvalbumin-expressing, fast-spiking interneurons, are a main source of the inhibitory signal that locally restrains seizures. Furthermore, a firing impairment in these interneurons, probably due to a drastic membrane depolarization, is an important event that by reducing the overall strength of local inhibition allows seizures to propagate across the cortex.
Our data suggest that modulation of fast-spiking interneuron activity may represent a new therapeutic strategy to prevent generalization of focal epilepsies.
Abstract In different animal models of focal epilepsy, seizure-like ictal discharge propagation is transiently opposed by feedforward inhibition. The specific cellular source of this signal and the mechanism by which inhibition ultimately becomes ineffective are, however, undefined. We used a brain slice model to study how focal ictal discharges that were repetitively evoked from the same site, and at precise times, propagate across the cortex. We used Ca2+ imaging and simultaneous single/dual cell recordings from pyramidal neurons (PyNs) and different classes of interneurons in rodents, including G42 and GIN transgenic mice expressing the green fluorescence protein in parvalbumin (Pv)-fast spiking (FS) and somatostatin (Som) interneurons, respectively. We found that these two classes of interneurons fired intensively shortly after ictal discharge generation at the focus. The inhibitory barrages that were recorded in PyNs occurred in coincidence with Pv-FS, but not with Som interneuron burst discharges. Furthermore, the strength of inhibitory barrages increased or decreased in parallel with increased or decreased firing in Pv-FS interneurons but not in Som interneurons. A firing impairment of Pv-FS interneurons caused by a membrane depolarization was found to precede ictal discharge onset in neighbouring pyramidal neurons. This event may account for the collapse of local inhibition that allows spatially defined clusters of PyNs to be recruited into propagating ictal discharges. Our study demonstrates that Pv-FS interneurons are a major source of the inhibitory barrages that oppose ictal discharge propagation and raises the possibility that targeting Pv-FS interneurons represents a new therapeutic strategy to prevent the generalization of human focal seizures.