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J Neurophysiol. 1982 Dec;48(6):1321-35.

Mechanisms of neocortical epileptogenesis in vitro.


1. The cellular mechanisms underlying interictal epileptogenesis have been examined in an in vitro slice preparation of guinea pig neocortex. Penicillin or bicuculline was applied to the tissue, and intracellular recordings were obtained from neurons and glia. 2. Following convulsant application, stimulation could elicit a short-latency excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP) and a large, longer latency depolarization shift (DS) in single neurons. DSs in neurons of the slice were very similar to those evoked in neurons of neocortex in vivo in that they displayed an all-or-none character, large shifts in latency during repetitive stimuli, long afterpotentials, and a prolonged refractory period. In contrast to epileptogenesis produced by penicillin in intact cortex, neither spontaneous DSs nor ictal episodes were observed in neocortical slices. 3. In simultaneous recordings from pairs of neurons within the same cortical column, DS generation and latency shifts were invariably synchronous. DS generation in neurons was also coincident with large, paroxysmal increases of extracellular [K+], as indicated by simultaneous recordings from glia. 4. When polarizing currents were applied to neurons injected with the local anesthetic QX-314, the DS amplitude varied monotonically and had an extrapolated reversal potential near 0 mV. In neurons injected with the K+-current blocker Cs+, large displacements of membrane potential were possible, and both the short-latency EPSP and the peak of the DS diminished completely at about 0 mV. At potentials positive to this, the short-latency EPSP was reversed, and the DS was replaced by a paroxysmal hyperpolarization whose rise time and peak latency were prolonged compared to the DS evoked at resting potential. The paroxysmal hyperpolarization probably represents the prolonged activation of the impaled neuron by EPSPs. 5. Voltage-dependent components, including slow spikes, appeared to contribute to generation of the DS at resting potential in Cs+-filled cells, and these components were blocked during large depolarizations. 6. The results suggest that DS generation in single neocortical neurons occurs during synchronous synaptic activation of a large group of cells. DS onset in a given neuron is determined by the timing of a variable-latency excitatory input that differs from the short-latency EPSP. The DS slow envelope appears to be generated by long-duration excitatory synaptic currents and may be modulated by intrinsic voltage-dependent membrane conductances. 7. We present a hypothesis for the initiation of the DS, based on the anatomical and physiological organization of the intrinsic neocortical circuits.

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