Enhancement of GABAA-current run-down in the hippocampus occurs at the first spontaneous seizure in a model of temporal lobe epilepsy

Manuela Mazzuferi, Eleonora Palma, Katiuscia Martinello, Francesca Maiolino, Cristina Roseti, Sergio Fucile, Paolo F. Fabene, Federica Schio, Michele Pellitteri, Guenther Sperk, Ricardo Miledi, Fabrizio Eusebi, Michele Simonato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Refractory temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is associated with a dysfunction of inhibitory signaling mediated by GABAA receptors. In particular, the use-dependent decrease (run-down) of the currents (IGABA) evoked by the repetitive activation of GABAA receptors is markedly enhanced in hippocampal and cortical neurons of TLE patients. Understanding the role of IGABA run-down in the disease, and its mechanisms, may allow development of medical alternatives to surgical resection, but such mechanistic insights are difficult to pursue in surgical human tissue. Therefore, we have used an animal model (pilocarpine-treated rats) to identify when and where the increase in IGABA run-down occurs in the natural history of epilepsy. We found: (i) that the increased run-down occurs in the hippocampus at the time of the first spontaneous seizure (i.e., when the diagnosis of epilepsy is made), and then extends to the neocortex and remains constant in the course of the disease; (ii) that the phenomenon is strictly correlated with the occurrence of spontaneous seizures, because it is not observed in animals that do not become epileptic. Furthermore, initial exploration of the molecular mechanism disclosed a relative increase in α4-, relative to α1-containing GABAA receptors, occurring at the same time when the increased run-down appears, suggesting that alterations in the molecular composition of the GABA receptors may be responsible for the occurrence of the increased run-down. These observations disclose research opportunities in the field of epileptogenesis that may lead to a better understanding of the mechanism whereby a previously normal tissue becomes epileptic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3180-3185
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Feb 16 2010


  • GABA receptor
  • Pilocarpine rat
  • Xenopus oocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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