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PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e40726. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040726. Epub 2012 Jul 11.

Morphological alterations in newly born dentate gyrus granule cells that emerge after status epilepticus contribute to make them less excitable.

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  • 1Departamento de Física, Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto, Universidade de São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo, Brazil.


Computer simulations of external current stimulations of dentate gyrus granule cells of rats with Status Epilepticus induced by pilocarpine and control rats were used to evaluate whether morphological differences alone between these cells have an impact on their electrophysiological behavior. The cell models were constructed using morphological information from tridimensional reconstructions with Neurolucida software. To evaluate the effect of morphology differences alone, ion channel conductances, densities and distributions over the dendritic trees of dentate gyrus granule cells were the same for all models. External simulated currents were injected in randomly chosen dendrites belonging to one of three different areas of dentate gyrus granule cell molecular layer: inner molecular layer, medial molecular layer and outer molecular layer. Somatic membrane potentials were recorded to determine firing frequencies and inter-spike intervals. The results show that morphologically altered granule cells from pilocarpine-induced epileptic rats are less excitable than control cells, especially when they are stimulated in the inner molecular layer, which is the target area for mossy fibers that sprout after pilocarpine-induced cell degeneration. This suggests that morphological alterations may act as a protective mechanism to allow dentate gyrus granule cells to cope with the increase of stimulation caused by mossy fiber sprouting.

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