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Eur J Neurosci. 1998 Aug;10(8):2714-22.

GABA-dependent generation of ectopic action potentials in the rat hippocampus.

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Cell Biology of Excitable Tissue Research Group, Montreal Neurological Institute and Departments of Neurology & Neurosurgery, and of Physiology, McGill University, Montreal, QC, H3A 2B4, Canada.


Intracellular recordings from CA3 pyramidal cells of rat hippocampus in a slice preparation revealed the occurrence of interictal epileptiform discharges and synchronous GABA-mediated potentials during application of 4-aminopyridine (4AP, 50 micrometer). The synchronous GABA-mediated potential consisted of a sequence of early hyperpolarization, long-lasting depolarization (LLD), and late hyperpolarization. Action potentials of variable amplitude occurred at the peak of the early hyperpolarization and during the LLD rising phase (48 of 64 cells); they were not prevented by membrane hyperpolarization and displayed inflections that were reminiscent of the initial segment-somatodendritic (IS-SD) fractionation. Interictal discharges were blocked by excitatory amino acid receptor antagonists, while both GABA-mediated potentials and action potentials of variable amplitude continued to occur (n = 10). The latter events were still recorded in the presence of the GABAB receptor antagonist CGP-35348 (0.5-1 mm, n = 4), but were abolished by the GABAA receptor antagonist bicuculline methiodide (BMI, 10 micrometer, n = 5). Localized application of BMI (20 micrometer, n = 6) or tetrodotoxin (TTX, 5 micrometer, n = 3) to the CA1 stratum radiatum blocked the variable amplitude action potentials; these effects were not seen when BMI (n = 4) or TTX (n = 4) were applied to the CA3 stratum radiatum, although both procedures made LLDs disappear. Our findings indicate that action potentials of variable amplitude recorded from CA3 pyramidal cells in the 4AP model are generated at or near the terminal region of the Schaffer collaterals and that they represent TTX-sensitive ectopic events. These action potentials are generated at this site by a BMI-sensitive (and thus GABAA-mediated) mechanism. We propose that the ectopic action potentials reflect an increased excitability of axon terminals that is presumably caused by [K+]o elevations associated with the 4AP-induced synchronous GABA-mediated potential.

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