The impact of chronic network hyperexcitability on developing glutamatergic synapses.
ABSTRACT The effects recurring seizures have on the developing brain are an important area of debate because many forms of human epilepsy arise in early life when the central nervous system is undergoing dramatic developmental changes. To examine effects on glutamatergic synaptogenesis, epileptiform activity was induced by chronic treatment with GABAa receptor antagonists in slice cultures made from infant rat hippocampus. Experiments in control cultures showed that molecular markers for glutamatergic and GABAergic synapses recapitulated developmental milestones reported previously in vivo. Following a 1-week treatment with bicuculline, the intensity of epileptiform activity that could be induced in cultures was greatly diminished, suggesting induction of an adaptive response. In keeping with this notion, immunoblotting revealed the expression of NMDA and AMPA receptor subunits was dramatically reduced along with the scaffolding proteins, PSD95 and Homer. These effects could not be attributed to neuronal cell death, were reversible, and were not observed in slices taken from older animals. Co-treating slices with APV or TTX abolished the effects of bicuculline suggesting that effects were dependent on NMDA receptors and neuronal activity. Neurophysiological recordings supported the biochemical findings and demonstrated decreases in both the amplitude and frequency of NMDA and AMPA receptor-mediated miniature EPSCs (mEPSCs). Taken together these results suggest that neuronal network hyperexcitability interferes with the normal maturation of glutamatergic synapses, which could have implications for cognitive deficits commonly associated with the severe epilepsies of early childhood.
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ABSTRACT: Neuronal activity is critical for synaptogenesis and the development of neuronal networks. In the immature brain excitation predominates over inhibition facilitating the development of normal brain circuits, but also rendering it more susceptible to seizures. In this paper, we review the evolution of the subunit composition of neurotransmitter receptors during development, how it promotes excitation in the immature brain, and how this subunit composition of neurotransmission receptors may be also present in the epileptic brain. During normal brain development, excitatory glutamate receptors peak in function and gamma-aminobutiric acid (GABA) receptors are mainly excitatory rather than inhibitory. A growing body of evidence from animal models of epilepsy and status epilepticus has demonstrated that the brain exposed to repeated seizures presents a subunit composition of neurotransmitter receptors that mirrors that of the immature brain and promotes further seizures and epileptogenesis. Studies performed in samples from the epileptic human brain have also found a subunit composition pattern of neurotransmitter receptors similar to the one found in the immature brain. These findings provide a solid rationale for tailoring antiepileptic treatments to the specific subunit composition of neurotransmitter receptors and they provide potential targets for the development of antiepileptogenic treatments.BioMed Research International 01/2014; 2014:301950. · 2.71 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Severe childhood epilepsy is commonly associated with intellectual developmental disabilities. The reasons for these cognitive deficits are likely multifactorial and will vary between epilepsy syndromes and even among children with the same syndrome. However, one factor these children have in common is the recurring seizures they experience - sometimes on a daily basis. Supporting the idea that the seizures themselves can contribute to intellectual disabilities are laboratory result demonstrating spatial learning and memory deficits in normal mice and rats that have experienced recurrent seizures in infancy. Studies reviewed here have shown that seizures in vivo and electrographic seizure activity in vitro both suppress the growth of hippocampal pyramidal cell dendrites. A simplification of dendritic arborization and resulting decrease in the number of excitatory synapses could help explain the observed cognitive disabilities. There are a wide variety of candidate mechanisms that could be involved in seizure-induced growth suppression. The challenge is designing experiments that will help focus research on a limited number of potential molecular events. Thus far results suggest that growth suppression is NMDA receptor-dependent and associated with a decrease in activation of the transcription factor CREB. The latter result is intriguing since CREB is known to play an important role in dendrite growth. Seizure-induced dendrite growth suppression may not occur as a single process in which pyramidal cells dendrites simply stop growing or grow slower compared to normal neurons. Instead, recent results suggest that after only a few hours of synchronized epileptiform in vitro dendrites appear to partially retract. This acute response is also NMDA receptor dependent and appears to be mediated by the Ca(+2)/calmodulin-dependent phosphatase, calcineurin. An understanding of the staging of seizure-induced growth suppression and the underlying molecular mechanisms will likely prove crucial for developing therapeutic strategies aimed at ameliorating the intellectual developmental disabilities associated with intractable childhood epilepsy. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled 'Dendrites and Disease'.Brain research bulletin 10/2013; · 2.97 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: In the early 1960s intrinsically generated widespread neuronal discharges were discovered to be the basis for the earliest motor behavior throughout the animal kingdom. The pattern generating system is in fact programmed into the developing nervous system, in a regionally specific manner, already at the early neural plate stage. Such rhythmically modulated phasic bursts were next discovered to be a general feature of developing neural networks and, largely on the basis of experimental interventions in cultured neural tissues, to contribute significantly to their morpho-physiological maturation. In particular, the level of spontaneous synchronized bursting is homeostatically regulated, and has the effect of constraining the development of excessive network excitability. After birth or hatching, this "slow-wave" activity pattern becomes sporadically suppressed in favor of sensory oriented "waking" behaviors better adapted to dealing with environmental contingencies. It nevertheless reappears periodically as "sleep" at several species-specific points in the diurnal/nocturnal cycle. Although this "default" behavior pattern evolves with development, its essential features are preserved throughout the life cycle, and are based upon a few simple mechanisms which can be both experimentally demonstrated and simulated by computer modeling. In contrast, a late onto- and phylogenetic aspect of sleep, viz., the intermittent "paradoxical" activation of the forebrain so as to mimic waking activity, is much less well understood as regards its contribution to brain development. Some recent findings dealing with this question by means of cholinergically induced "aroused" firing patterns in developing neocortical cell cultures, followed by quantitative electrophysiological assays of immediate and longterm sequelae, will be discussed in connection with their putative implications for sleep ontogeny.Brain sciences. 06/2013; 3(2):800-20.