Changes in endogenous somatostatin after quinolinic and kainic acids were investigated by measuring somatostatin-like peaks by in vivo voltammetry and by assessing the distribution of somatostatin-positive neurons by immunocytochemistry. Kainic acid (0.19 nmol/0.5 μl) or quinolinic acid (120 nmol/0.5 μl) in doses inducing comparable electroencephalographic seizure patterns, were injected into the hippocampus of freely moving rats. Somatostatin-like peaks were measured every 6 min for 3 h by a carbon fiber electrode implanted in the proximity of the injection needle. Kainic acid kept somatostatin-like peaks significantly higher than saline from 48 min after the injection till the end of the recording. Somatostatin-like peaks were dramatically elevated by quinolinic acid, reaching a maximum of 482% 60 min after the injection. Three days later, administration of kainic acid resulted in selective degeneration of CA3 pyramidal neurons but did not affect the number of somatostatin-positive cells, while quinolinic acid induced cell loss in all pyramidal layers and complete degeneration of somatostatin-positive cells in the whole hippocampus. Thus, the quantitative difference in somatostatin release in response to doses of kainic and quinolinic acids inducing comparable electroencephalographic seizure patterns was reflected in a substantial difference in the neurodegenerative consequences. In both models, the release of somatostatin in response to seizures may be interpreted as a "defense" mechanism aimed at reducing the spread of excitation in the tissue.
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