The effects of modulators of GABA-A receptors on neuronal network activity were studied in the neonatal (postnatal days 0-5) rat hippocampus in vitro. Under control conditions, the physiological pattern of activity of the neonatal hippocampal network was characterized by spontaneous network-driven giant depolarizing potentials (GDPs). The GABA-A receptor agonist isoguvacine (1-2 microM) and the allosteric modulator diazepam (2 microM) induced biphasic responses: initially the frequency of GDPs increased 3 to 4 fold followed by blockade of GDPs and desynchronization of the network activity. The GABA-A receptor antagonists bicuculline (10 microM) and picrotoxin (100 microM) blocked GDPs and induced glutamate (AMPA and NMDA)-receptor-mediated interictal- and ictal-like activities in the hippocampal slices and the intact hippocampus. These data suggest that at early postnatal ages GABA can exert a dual - both excitatory and inhibitory - action on the network activity.
Copyright 1999 S. Karger AG, Basel