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J Neurophysiol. 2011 Nov;106(5):2593-605. doi: 10.1152/jn.00601.2011. Epub 2011 Aug 10.

Low-magnesium medium induces epileptiform activity in mouse olfactory bulb slices.

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Dept. of Physiology, Univ. of Otago, PO Box 913, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand.


Magnesium-free medium can be used in brain slice studies to enhance glutamate receptor function, but this manipulation causes seizure-like activity in many cortical areas. The rodent olfactory bulb (OB) slice is a popular preparation, and potentially ictogenic ionic conditions have often been used to study odor processing. We studied low Mg(2+)-induced epileptiform discharges in mouse OB slices using extracellular and whole cell electrophysiological recordings. Low-Mg(2+) medium induced two distinct types of epileptiform activity: an intraglomerular delta-frequency oscillation resembling slow sniff-induced activity and minute-long seizure-like events (SLEs) consisting of large negative-going field potentials accompanied by sustained depolarization of output neurons. SLEs were dependent on N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors and sodium currents and were facilitated by α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionate receptors. The events were initiated in the glomerular layer and propagated laterally through the external plexiform layer at a slow time scale. Our findings confirm that low-Mg(2+) medium should be used with caution in OB slices. Furthermore, the SLEs resembled the so-called slow direct current (DC) shift of clinical and experimental seizures, which has recently been recognized as being of great clinical importance. The OB slice may therefore provide a robust and unique in vitro model of acute seizures in which mechanisms of epileptiform DC shifts can be studied in isolation from fast oscillations.

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