Inhibition in kainate-lesioned hyperexcitable hippocampi: Physiologic, autoradiographic, and immunocytochemical observations

J. E. Franck, D. D. Kunkel, D. G. Baskin, Philip A Schwartzkroin

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122 Scopus citations


Following kainate lesions of hippocampal subfield CA3, the remaining CA 1 pyramidal cells become hyperexcitable. This lesion is of interest because, morphologically, it resembles the damage often seen in cases of temporal lobe epilepsy; it may provide insight into the consequences of such cell loss in humans. The hyperexcitability in CA 1 is associated with a loss of both early and late IPSPs. At long postlesion latencies (2-4 months) inhibition shows partial recovery and the hyperexcitability subsides. The intent of the present work was to determine if alterations in CA 1 excitability and functional inhibition postlesion are correlated with changes in morphologic and physiologic indicators of inhibitory interneuron function or with alterations in binding sites for inhibitory transmitters. Using GAD immunocytochemistry, we found no acute or chronic lesion-induced decrease in numbers of CA 1 interneurons or in qualitative characteristics of the pericellular distribution of their terminals in CA 1 stratum pyramidale. Intracellular recordings from identified cells in CA 1 indicated that putative interneurons were viable in hyperexcitable tissue. It was further observed that 'recovery' in tissue studied 2-4 months postlesion primarily involved the early IPSP; the late IPSP failed to reappear. Quantitative in vitro autoradiographic analysis of 3H-flunitrazepam - a marker for the early IPSP associated GABA(A) receptor complex - indicated that hyperexcitability was associated with an increase in GABA(A) receptor number in CA 1; receptor binding returned to normal at long postlesion latencies as the early IPSP returned and hyperexcitability subsided. Finally, hyperexcitable pyramidal cells were found to retain their responsivity to exogenously applied GABA. These data indicate that much of the cellular machinery necessary for inhibition is retained in CA 1, despite lesion-induced hyperexcitability. We suggest that the acute loss of the IPSP after kainate lesion is due to a transient disconnection between inhibitory and excitatory elements in CA 1 and/or to a loss of normal afferent drive from CA3 onto some CA 1 interneurons. We further suggest that incomplete recovery can be explained by abnormalities that occur as neuroplastic rearrangements in response to deafferentation of CA 1. The relevance of these studies to human hippocampal necrosis and to other models of focal epilepsy is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1991-2002
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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