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Brain Res. 2004 Dec 24;1030(1):57-65.

Suppression of excitatory synaptic transmission can facilitate low-calcium epileptiform activity in the hippocampus in vivo.

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  • 1Neural Engineering Center, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106, USA.


It has been reported that the inhibitory postsynaptic potential (IPSP) is abolished before the excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP) when the extracellular concentration of Ca(2+) ([Ca(2+)](o)) is removed gradually in hippocampal slices. However, the low-Ca(2+) nonsynaptic epileptiform activity does not appear until the [Ca(2+)](o) is decreased to a level sufficient to depress the excitatory synaptic transmission. This suggests the hypothesis that the suppression of excitatory synaptic transmission itself could facilitate the generation of epileptiform activity. In the present study, we tested this hypothesis and developed a new model of nonsynaptic epileptiform activity by gradually raising the neuronal excitability and blocking the synaptic transmission with high K(+), zero Ca(2+) and calcium chelator ethylene glycol-bis (beta-aminoethyl ether)-N,N,N',N'-tetraacetic acid (EGTA) in the CA1 region of hippocampus in vivo. The changes of synaptic transmission and recurrent inhibitory activity during this process were evaluated by measuring the amplitude of the population spikes (PS) in response to paired-pulse orthodromic stimulation. The results show that the epileptiform activity appeared only when the excitatory synaptic transmission was depressed by further lowering [Ca(2+)](o) with EGTA. Similar epileptiform activity could be induced when EGTA was replaced by the excitatory postsynaptic amino acid antagonists D-(-)-2-amino-5-phosphonopentanoic acid (APV) plus 6,7-dinitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (DNQX) or APV alone but not DNQX alone. The combination application of APV and cadmium enhanced the epileptiform activity. These results suggest that the suppression of excitatory synaptic transmission can facilitate the appearance of epileptiform activity in solution with high K(+) and low Ca(2+) in vivo. These data provide new information to be considered in the development of antiepileptic drugs. They also suggest a possible mechanism to explain the fact that low-frequency electrical stimulation can suppress epileptiform activity.

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