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J Neurosci. 2007 Nov 14;27(46):12641-50.

Diminished neurosteroid sensitivity of synaptic inhibition and altered location of the alpha4 subunit of GABA(A) receptors in an animal model of epilepsy.

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Department of Neurology, Health Sciences Center, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia 22908, USA.


In animal models of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), neurosteroid sensitivity of GABA(A) receptors on dentate granule cells (DGCs) is diminished; the molecular mechanism underlying this phenomenon remains unclear. The current study investigated a mechanism for loss of neurosteroid sensitivity of synaptic GABA(A) receptors in TLE. Synaptic currents recorded from DGCs of epileptic animals (epileptic DGCs) were less frequent, larger in amplitude, and less sensitive to allopregnanolone modulation than those recorded from DGCs of control animals (control DGCs). Synaptic currents recorded from epileptic DGCs were less sensitive to diazepam and had altered sensitivity to benzodiazepine inverse agonist RO 15-4513 (ethyl-8-azido-6-dihydro-5-methyl-6-oxo-4H-imidazo[1,5alpha][1,4]benzodiazepine-3-carboxylate) and furosemide than those recorded from control DGCs. Properties of synaptic currents recorded from epileptic DGCs appeared similar to those of recombinant receptors containing the alpha4 subunit. Expression of the alpha4 subunit and its colocalization with the synaptic marker GAD65 was increased in epileptic DGCs. Location of the alpha4 subunit in relation to symmetric (inhibitory) synapses on soma and dendrites of control and epileptic DGCs was examined with postembedding immunogold electron microscopy. The alpha4 immunogold labeling was present more commonly within the synapse in epileptic DGCs compared with control DGCs, in which the subunit was extrasynaptic. These studies demonstrate that, in epileptic DGCs, the neurosteroid modulation of synaptic currents is diminished and alpha4 subunit-containing receptors are present at synapses and participate in synaptic transmission. These changes may facilitate seizures in epileptic animals.

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