Cortico-hippocampal hyperexcitability in synapsin I/II/III knockout mice: Age-dependency and response to the antiepileptic drug levetiracetam

D. Boido, P. Farisello, F. Cesca, E. Ferrea, F. Valtorta, F. Benfenati, P. Baldelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Synapsins (SynI, SynII, SynIII) are a multigene family of synaptic vesicle (SV) phosphoproteins implicated in the regulation of synaptic transmission and plasticity. Synapsin I, II, I/II and I/II/III knockout mice are epileptic and SYN1/2 genes have been identified as major epilepsy susceptibility genes in humans. We analyzed cortico-hippocampal epileptiform activity induced by 4-aminopyridine (4AP) in acute slices from presymptomatic (3-weeks-old) and symptomatic (1-year-old) Syn I/II/III triple knockout (TKO) mice and aged-matched triple wild type (TWT) controls and assessed the effect of the SV-targeted antiepileptic drug (AED) levetiracetam (LEV) in reverting the epileptic phenotype. Both fast and slow interictal (I-IC) and ictal (IC) events were observed in both genotypes. The incidence of fast I-IC events was higher in presymptomatic TKO slices, while frequency and latency of I-IC events were similar in both genotypes. The major age and genotype effects were observed in IC activity, that was much more pronounced in 3-weeks-old TKO and persisted with age, while it disappeared from 1-year-old TWT slices. LEV virtually suppressed fast I-IC and IC discharges from 3-weeks-old TWT slices, while it only increased the latency of fast I-IC and IC activity in TKO slices. Analysis of I-IC events in patch-clamped CA1 pyramidal neurons revealed that LEV increased the inhibitory/excitatory ratio of I-IC activity in both genotypes. The lower LEV potency in TKO slices of both ages was associated with a decreased expression of SV2A, a SV protein acting as LEV receptor, in cortex and hippocampus. The results demonstrate that deletion of Syn genes is associated with a higher propensity to 4AP-induced epileptic paroxysms that precedes the onset of epilepsy and consolidates with age. LEV ameliorates such hyper excitability by enhancing the inhibition/excitation ratio, although the effect is hindered in TKO slices which exhibit a concomitant decrease in the levels of the LEV receptor SV2A.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)268-283
Number of pages16
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 24 2010


  • 4-aminopyridine
  • Epilepsy
  • Ictal discharge
  • Interictal event
  • Mouse model
  • Multi-electrode arrays

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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