Blocking early GABA depolarization with bumetanide results in permanent alterations in cortical circuits and sensorimotor gating deficits.

Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research, University of California, San Francisco CA 94143, USA.
Cerebral Cortex (Impact Factor: 8.31). 03/2011; 21(3):574-87. DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhq124
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT A high incidence of seizures occurs during the neonatal period when immature networks are hyperexcitable and susceptible to hypersyncrhonous activity. During development, γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in adults, typically excites neurons due to high expression of the Na(+)-K(+)-2Cl(-) cotransporter (NKCC1). NKCC1 facilitates seizures because it renders GABA activity excitatory through intracellular Cl(-) accumulation, while blocking NKCC1 with bumetanide suppresses seizures. Bumetanide is currently being tested in clinical trials for treatment of neonatal seizures. By blocking NKCC1 with bumetanide during cortical development, we found a critical period for the development of α-amino-3-hydroxyl-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionate synapses. Disruption of GABA signaling during this window resulted in permanent decreases in excitatory synaptic transmission and sensorimotor gating deficits, a common feature in schizophrenia. Our study identifies an essential role for GABA-mediated depolarization in regulating the balance between cortical excitation and inhibition during a critical period and suggests a cautionary approach for using bumetanide in treating neonatal seizures.

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