Neocortical hyperexcitability defect in a mutant mouse model of spike-wave epilepsy,stargazer

Walter Kee Nahm, Baylor College of Medicine


Single-locus mutations in mice can express epileptic phenotypes and provide critical insights into the naturally occurring defects that alter excitability and mediate synchronization in the central nervous system (CNS). One such recessive mutation (on chromosome (Chr) 15), stargazer(stg/stg) expresses frequent bilateral 6-7 cycles per second (c/sec) spike-wave seizures associated with behavioral arrest, and provides a valuable opportunity to examine the inherited lesion associated with spike-wave synchronization. The existence of distinct and heterogeneous defects mediating spike-wave discharge (SWD) generation has been demonstrated by the presence of multiple genetic loci expressing generalized spike-wave activity and the differential effects of pharmacological agents on SWDs in different spike-wave epilepsy models. Attempts at understanding the different basic mechanisms underlying spike-wave synchronization have focused on $\gamma$-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptor-, low threshold T-type Ca$\sp{2+}$ channel-, and N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDA-R)-mediated transmission. It is believed that defects in these modes of transmission can mediate the conversion of normal oscillations in a trisynaptic circuit, which includes the neocortex, reticular nucleus and thalamus, into spike-wave activity. However, the underlying lesions involved in spike-wave synchronization have not been clearly identified. The purpose of this research project was to locate and characterize a distinct neuronal hyperexcitability defect favoring spike-wave synchronization in the stargazer brain. One experimental approach for anatomically locating areas of synchronization and hyperexcitability involved an attempt to map patterns of hypersynchronous activity with antibodies to activity-induced proteins. A second approach to characterizing the neuronal defect involved examining the neuronal responses in the mutant following application of pharmacological agents with well known sites of action. In order to test the hypothesis that an NMDA receptor mediated hyperexcitability defect exists in stargazer neocortex, extracellular field recordings were used to examine the effects of CPP and MK-801 on coronal neocortical brain slices of stargazer and wild type perfused with 0 Mg$\sp{2+}$ artificial cerebral spinal fluid (aCSF). To study how NMDA receptor antagonists might promote increased excitability in stargazer neocortex, two basic hypotheses were tested: (1) NMDA receptor antagonists directly activate deep layer principal pyramidal cells in the neocortex of stargazer, presumably by opening NMDA receptor channels altered by the stg mutation; and (2) NMDA receptor antagonists disinhibit the neocortical network by blocking recurrent excitatory synaptic inputs onto inhibitory interneurons in the deep layers of stargazer neocortex. In order to test whether CPP might disinhibit the 0 Mg$\sp{2+}$ bursting network in the mutant by acting on inhibitory interneurons, the inhibitory inputs were pharmacologically removed by application of GABA receptor antagonists to the cortical network, and the effects of CPP under 0 Mg$\sp{2+}$aCSF perfusion in layer V of stg/stg were then compared with those found in +/+ neocortex using in vitro extracellular field recordings. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

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Recommended Citation

Nahm, Walter Kee, "Neocortical hyperexcitability defect in a mutant mouse model of spike-wave epilepsy,stargazer" (1997). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9704834.