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J Neurophysiol. 2002 Aug;88(2):783-93.

Evoked responses of the dentate gyrus during seizures in developing gerbils with inherited epilepsy.

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Department of Comparative Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, California 94305-5336, USA.


When they are 1-2 mo old, domesticated Mongolian gerbils begin having initially mild seizures which become more severe with age. To evaluate the development of this increasing seizure severity, we obtained field potential responses of the dentate gyrus to paired-pulse stimulation of the perforant path during seizures. In 18 gerbils that were 1.5-8.0 mo old, 73 seizures were analyzed. We measured population spike amplitude, the slope of the field excitatory postsynaptic potential (fEPSP), and the population spike amplitude ratio (2nd/1st) to evaluate excitatory and inhibitory synaptic processes. In gerbils <2 mo old, exposure to a novel environment was followed by an increase in population spike amplitude and then by seizure onset, but population spike amplitude ratio and fEPSP slope remained at baseline levels, and multiple population spikes were never evoked. As previously reported for chronically epileptic gerbils, these findings provide little evidence of a disinhibitory seizure-initiating mechanism in the dentate gyrus when young gerbils begin having seizures. In young gerbils evoked responses changed little during the behaviorally mild seizures. In contrast, most seizures in older gerbils included generalized convulsions, postictal depression, and evoked responses that changed dramatically. In older gerbils, shortly after seizure onset the dentate gyrus became hyperexcitable. Population spike amplitude and fEPSP slope peaked, and multiple population spikes were evoked, suggesting that mechanisms for seizure amplification and spread are more developed in older gerbils. Next, dentate gyrus excitability decreased precipitously, and population spike amplitude and fEPSP slope diminished. This period of hypoexcitability began before the end of the seizure, suggesting it may contribute to seizure termination. After the convulsive phase of the seizure, older gerbils remained motionless during a period of postictal depression, and population spike amplitude remained suppressed until the abrupt switch to normal exploratory activity. These findings suggest that the mechanisms of postictal depression may suppress granule cell excitability. The population spike amplitude ratio peaked after the convulsive phase and then gradually returned to the baseline level an average of 12 min after seizure onset, suggesting that granule cell inhibition recovers within minutes after a spontaneous seizure. Although it is unclear whether the seizure-related changes in evoked responses are a cause or an effect of increased seizure severity in older gerbils, their analysis provides clues about developmental changes in the mechanisms of seizure spread and termination.

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