Reduced excitatory drive in interneurons in an animal model of cortical dysplasia

J Neurophysiol. 2006 Aug;96(2):569-78. doi: 10.1152/jn.01133.2005. Epub 2006 Apr 26.


Cortical dysplasia (CD) is strongly associated with epilepsy. Enhanced excitability in dysplastic neuronal networks is believed to contribute to epileptogenesis, but the underlying mechanisms for the hyperexcitability are poorly understood. Cortical GABAergic interneurons provide the principal inhibition in the neuronal networks by forming inhibitory synapses on excitatory neurons. The aim of the present study was to determine if the function of interneurons in CD is compromised. In a rat model of CD, in utero irradiation, we studied spontaneous and miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (sEPSCs and mEPSCs) in cortical interneurons using whole cell recording techniques. Two types of interneurons, type I and type II, were identified based on their distinctive spike patterns and short-term synaptic plasticity. We found that the frequencies of sEPSCs and mEPSCs were significantly decreased in both types of interneurons in CD. However, the amplitude and kinetics of sEPSCs and mEPSCs were not different. Five-pulse, 20-Hz stimulation produced short-term depression in type I interneurons in both CD and control tissue. Type II interneurons showed a robust short-term facilitation in both CD and control tissue. Morphological analysis of biocytin-filled neurons revealed that dendritic trees of both types of interneurons were not altered in CD. Our results demonstrate that the excitatory drive, namely sEPSCs and mEPSCs, in two main types of interneuron is largely attenuated in CD, probably due to a reduction in the number of excitatory synapses on both types of interneurons in CD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Dendrites / physiology
  • Electrophysiology
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • Female
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Pregnancy
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley