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J Comp Neurol. 2015 Feb 1;523(2):281-97. doi: 10.1002/cne.23681. Epub 2014 Oct 8.

Blockade of excitatory synaptogenesis with proximal dendrites of dentate granule cells following rapamycin treatment in a mouse model of temporal lobe epilepsy.

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Department of Comparative Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, 94305.


Inhibiting the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway with rapamycin blocks granule cell axon (mossy fiber) sprouting after epileptogenic injuries, including pilocarpine-induced status epilepticus. However, it remains unclear whether axons from other types of neurons sprout into the inner molecular layer and synapse with granule cell dendrites despite rapamycin treatment. If so, other aberrant positive-feedback networks might develop. To test this possibility stereological electron microscopy was used to estimate the numbers of excitatory synapses in the inner molecular layer per hippocampus in pilocarpine-treated control mice, in mice 5 days after pilocarpine-induced status epilepticus, and after status epilepticus and daily treatment beginning 24 hours later with rapamycin or vehicle for 2 months. The optical fractionator method was used to estimate numbers of granule cells in Nissl-stained sections so that numbers of excitatory synapses in the inner molecular layer per granule cell could be calculated. Control mice had an average of 2,280 asymmetric synapses in the inner molecular layer per granule cell, which was reduced to 63% of controls 5 days after status epilepticus, recovered to 93% of controls in vehicle-treated mice 2 months after status epilepticus, but remained at only 63% of controls in rapamycin-treated mice. These findings reveal that rapamycin prevented excitatory axons from synapsing with proximal dendrites of granule cells and raise questions about the recurrent excitation hypothesis of temporal lobe epilepsy.


electron microscopy; hippocampus; mossy cell; mossy fiber sprouting; pilocarpine; stereology

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