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Rat subicular networks gate hippocampal output activity in an in vitro model of limbic seizures

  • Ruba Benini
  • Massimo Avoli
Blackwell Science Inc
Publication Date
Jun 02, 2005


Evidence obtained from human epileptic tissue maintained in vitro indicates that the subiculum may play a crucial role in initiating epileptiform discharges in patients with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy. Hence, we used rat hippocampus–entorhinal cortex (EC) slices to identify the role of subiculum in epileptiform synchronization during bath application of 4-aminopyridine (4AP, 50 μm). In these slices, fast CA3-driven interictal-like events were restricted to the hippocampal CA3/CA1 areas and failed to propagate to the EC where slow interictal-like and ictal-like epileptiform discharges were recorded. However, antagonizing GABAA receptors with picrotoxin (50 μm) made CA3-driven interictal activity spread to EC. Sequential field potential analysis along the CA3–CA1–subiculum axis revealed that the amplitude of CA3-driven interictal discharges recorded in the presence of 4AP only diminished within the subiculum. Furthermore, CA1 electrical stimulation under control conditions elicited little or no subicular activation and never any response in EC; in contrast, robust subicular discharges that spread to EC could be evoked after picrotoxin. Intracellular recordings indicated that potentiation by picrotoxin was associated with blockade of hyperpolarizing IPSPs in subicular cells. Finally, when surgically isolated from adjacent structures, the subiculum generated low-amplitude synchronous discharges that corresponded to an intracellular hyperpolarization–depolarization sequence, were resistant to glutamatergic antagonists, and represented the activity of synchronized interneuronal networks. Bath application of picrotoxin abolished these 4AP-induced events and in their place robust network bursting occurred. In conclusion, our study demonstrates that the subiculum plays a powerful gating role on hippocampal output activity. This function depends on GABAA receptor-mediated inhibition and controls hippocampal–parahippocampal interactions that are known to modulate limbic seizures.

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