Synaptic and extrasynaptic origin of the excitation/inhibition imbalance in the hippocampus of synapsin I/II/III knockout mice

Pasqualina Farisello, Davide Boido, Thierry Nieus, Lucian Medrihan, Fabrizia Cesca, Flavia Valtorta, Pietro Baldelli, Fabio Benfenati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Synapsins (Syn I, Syn II, and Syn III) are a family of synaptic vesicle phosphoproteins regulating synaptic transmission and plasticity. SYN1/2 genes have been identified as major epilepsy susceptibility genes in humans and synapsin I/II/III triple knockout (TKO) mice are epileptic. However, excitatory and inhibitory synaptic transmission and short-term plasticity have never been analyzed in intact neuronal circuits of TKO mice. To clarify the generation and expression of the epileptic phenotype, we performed patch-clamp recordings in the CA1 region of acute hippocampal slices from 1-month-old presymptomatic and 6-month-old epileptic TKO mice and age-matched controls. We found a strong imbalance between basal glutamatergic and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic transmission with increased evoked excitatory postsynaptic current and impaired evoked inhibitory postsynaptic current amplitude. This imbalance was accompanied by a parallel derangement of short-term plasticity paradigms, with enhanced facilitation of glutamatergic transmission in the presymptomatic phase and milder depression of inhibitory synapses in the symptomatic phase. Interestingly, a lower tonic GABAA current due to the impaired GABA release is responsible for the more depolarized resting potential found in TKO CA1 neurons, which makes them more susceptible to fire. All these changes preceded the appearance of epilepsy, indicating that the distinct changes in excitatory and inhibitory transmission due to the absence of Syns initiate the epileptogenic process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-593
Number of pages13
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • epilepsy
  • GABA transmission
  • glutamate transmission
  • synaptic vesicles
  • tonic current

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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