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Brain Res. 1997 Jun 20;760(1-2):109-17.

Parvalbumin disappears from GABAergic CA1 neurons of the gerbil hippocampus with seizure onset while its presence persists in the perforant path.

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Neuroanatomy Section, Institute of Anatomy, University Basle, Switzerland.


Mongolian gerbils are epilepsy prone animals, a trait observable at the behavioural level during the 2nd month of life. As a unique species difference, gerbils express the calcium-binding protein parvalbumin (PV) in the perforant path from the entorhinal cortex to the hippocampus. In this study, we determined the time of appearance of PV in the layer II neurons of the entorhinal cortex and the perforant path terminals in gerbils between post-natal days 30 and 50. Signs of low grade seizures were observed in few animals from P40 onward. PV stain in the entorhinal cortex and perforant path terminals was already detectable at P30, well before the onset of behavioural seizures and did not change with age. It is suggested that the presence of PV in this pathway may be related to the generation early in life of an epileptogenic focus in the limbic forebrain. Altered inhibitory hippocampal circuits have also been suggested as a cause of seizures in the gerbil. Therefore, we quantitated hippocampal GABA-immunoreactive neurons and the PV-immunoreactive subpopulation. A group of gerbils with a high density of stained pyramidal interneurons in CA1 and one lacking PV-stained perikarya could be distinguished at P40 and P50. The density of GABA-immunoreactive nerve cells however, remained the same in both groups and through the ages studied. Thus, perikaryal PV is lost from intact GABAergic nerve cells at the same time as behavioural seizures are observed. The loss of PV from GABAergic neurons may affect their functional properties and be instrumental for the maintainance of behavioural seizures.

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