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J Neurophysiol. 1997 Apr;77(4):1924-38.

Differential epilepsy-associated alterations in postsynaptic GABA(A) receptor function in dentate granule and CA1 neurons.

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Department of Anatomy, Medical College of Virginia, Richmond 23298-0599, USA.


Alterations in GABAergic function associated with the development of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) were examined with the use of patch-clamp recording techniques in dentate granule (DG) and CA1 neurons acutely isolated from control and spontaneously epileptic rats in which TLE was elicited by pilocarpine injection 3-17 wk before use. The maximal efficacy of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in activating whole cell GABA currents increased significantly in epileptic DG neurons relative to controls. This efficacy increase was due to a 78% enhancement in the functional capacitance-normalized GABA(A) receptor (GABA(A)R) current density in epileptic DG neurons. Increased DG GABA(A)R current density was not accompanied by alterations in GABA potency (EC50). However, the maximal sensitivity of DG GABA-evoked currents to blockade by zinc increased 190% in epileptic neurons. Augmentation of epileptic DG neuron GABA-evoked currents by the broad-spectrum anticonvulsant benzodiazepine clonazepam (100 nM) was enhanced 114% relative to controls, whereas augmentation by the benzodiazepine, (BZ1)-selective agonist zolpidem (100 nM) was decreased by 66%. In contrast to DG neurons, maximal efficacy of GABA in activating GABA currents decreased in epileptic CA1 neurons relative to controls, due to a 52% decrease in functional capacitance-normalized GABA(A)R current density. This altered efficacy of GABA was accompanied by an increased GABA potency (GABA EC50 was 35.8 and 24.5 microM in control and epileptic neurons, respectively). Sensitivity of GABA-evoked currents to blockade by zinc was unchanged in epileptic CA1 neurons, whereas clonazepam (100 nM) augmentation of CA1 GABA-evoked currents decreased 81% relative to controls. These regionally distinct epilepsy-associated modifications in hippocampal GABAergic function may be due to discrete structural alterations in postsynaptic GABA(A)Rs accompanying epileptogenesis, could be therapeutically important, and undoubtedly could contribute to the enhanced limbic excitability underlying TLE.

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