Synaptic reorganization in the epileptic hippocampus involves altered excitatory and inhibitory transmission besides the rearrangement of dendritic spines, resulting in altered excitability, ion homeostasis, and cell swelling. The potassium-chloride cotransporter-2 (KCC2) is the main chloride extruder in neurons and hence will play a prominent role in determining the polarity of GABAA receptor-mediated chloride currents. In addition, KCC2 also interacts with the actin cytoskeleton which is critical for dendritic spine morphogenesis, and for the maintenance of glutamatergic synapses and cell volume. Using immunocytochemistry, we examined the cellular and subcellular levels of KCC2 in surgically removed hippocampi of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) patients and compared them to control human tissue. We also studied the distribution of KCC2 in a pilocarpine mouse model of epilepsy. An overall increase in KCC2-expression was found in epilepsy and confirmed by Western blots. The cellular and subcellular distributions in control mouse and human samples were largely similar; moreover, changes affecting KCC2-expression were also alike in chronic epileptic human and mouse hippocampi. At the subcellular level, we determined the neuronal elements exhibiting enhanced KCC2 expression. In epileptic tissue, staining became more intense in the immunopositive elements detected in control tissue, and profiles with subthreshold expression of KCC2 in control samples became labelled. Positive interneuron somata and dendrites were more numerous in epileptic hippocampi, despite severe interneuron loss. Whether the elevation of KCC2-expression is ultimately a pro- or anticonvulsive change, or both—behaving differently during ictal and interictal states in a context-dependent manner—remains to be established.
- Human TLE
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