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eNeuro. 2019 Apr 23;6(2). pii: ENEURO.0056-19.2019. doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0056-19.2019. eCollection 2019 Mar-Apr.

Electroconvulsive Shock Enhances Responsive Motility and Purinergic Currents in Microglia in the Mouse Hippocampus.

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Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20007.
Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20007.
Department of Pediatrics, Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hospital, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China.
Department of Neuroscience, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20007.


Microglia are in a privileged position to both affect and be affected by neuroinflammation, neuronal activity and injury, which are all hallmarks of seizures and the epilepsies. Hippocampal microglia become activated after prolonged, damaging seizures known as status epilepticus (SE). However, since SE causes both hyperactivity and injury of neurons, the mechanisms triggering this activation remain unclear, as does the relevance of the microglial activation to the ensuing epileptogenic processes. In this study, we use electroconvulsive shock (ECS) to study the effect of neuronal hyperactivity without neuronal degeneration on mouse hippocampal microglia. Unlike SE, ECS did not alter hippocampal CA1 microglial density, morphology, or baseline motility. In contrast, both ECS and SE produced a similar increase in ATP-directed microglial process motility in acute slices, and similarly upregulated expression of the chemokine C-C motif chemokine ligand 2 (CCL2). Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings of hippocampal CA1sr microglia showed that ECS enhanced purinergic currents mediated by P2X7 receptors in the absence of changes in passive properties or voltage-gated currents, or changes in receptor expression. This differs from previously described alterations in intrinsic characteristics which coincided with enhanced purinergic currents following SE. These ECS-induced effects point to a "seizure signature" in hippocampal microglia characterized by altered purinergic signaling. These data demonstrate that ictal activity per se can drive alterations in microglial physiology without neuronal injury. These physiological changes, which up until now have been associated with prolonged and damaging seizures, are of added interest as they may be relevant to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which remains a gold-standard treatment for depression.


ATP; ECT; epilepsy; neuroinflammation; patch-clamp electrophysiology; seizures

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