Kainate, a double agent that generates seizures: two decades of progress

Trends Neurosci. 2000 Nov;23(11):580-7. doi: 10.1016/s0166-2236(00)01659-3.


Studies using kainate, an excitatory amino acid extracted from a seaweed, have provided major contributions to the understanding of epileptogenesis. Here we review pioneering and more recent studies aimed at determining how kainate generates seizures and, in particular, how inhibition is altered during seizures. We focus on target and subunit-specific effects of kainate on hippocampal pyramidal neurons and interneurons that lead to an excitation of both types of neurons and thus to the parallel increase of glutamatergic and GABAergic spontaneous currents. We propose that kainate excites all its targets, the net consequence depending on the level of activity of the network.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / chemically induced
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists* / pharmacology
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism
  • Kainic Acid* / pharmacology
  • Neural Inhibition
  • Presynaptic Terminals / metabolism
  • Pyramidal Cells / metabolism
  • Receptors, Kainic Acid
  • Seizures / chemically induced*
  • Seizures / physiopathology
  • Synapses / physiology
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism


  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists
  • Gluk2 kainate receptor
  • Receptors, Kainic Acid
  • Glutamic Acid
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Kainic Acid