Cation-chloride cotransporters and GABA-ergic innervation in the human epileptic hippocampus

Epilepsia. 2007 Apr;48(4):663-73. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2007.00986.x. Epub 2007 Feb 23.


Intracellular chloride concentration, [Cl(-)](i), determines the polarity of GABA(A)-induced neuronal Cl(-) currents. In neurons, [Cl(-)](i) is set by the activity of Na(+), K(+), 2Cl(-) cotransporters (NKCC) such as NKCC1, which physiologically accumulate Cl(-) in the cell, and Cl(-) extruding K(+), Cl(-) cotransporters like KCC2. Alterations in the balance of NKCC1 and KCC2 activity may determine the switch from hyperpolarizing to depolarizing effects of GABA, reported in the subiculum of epileptic patients with hippocampal sclerosis. We studied the expression of NKCC (putative NKCC1) and KCC2 in human normal temporal neocortex by Western blot analysis and in normal and epileptic regions of the subiculum and the hippocampus proper using immunocytochemistry. Western blot analysis revealed NKCC and KCC2 proteins in adult human neocortical membranes similar to those in rat neocortex. NKCC and KCC2 immunolabeling of pyramidal and nonpyramidal cells was found in normal and epileptic hippocampal formation. In the transition between the subiculum with sclerotic regions of CA1, known to exhibit epileptogenic activity, double immunolabeling of NKCC and KCC2 revealed that approximately 20% of the NKCC-immunoreactive neurons do not express KCC2. In these same areas some neurons were distinctly hyperinnervated by parvalbumin (PV) positive hypertrophic basket formations that innervated mostly neurons expressing NKCC (74%) and to a lesser extent NKCC-immunonegative neurons (26%). Hypertrophic basket formations also innervated KCC2-positive (76%) and -negative (24%) neurons. The data suggest that changes in the relative expression of NKCC1 and KCC2 in neurons having aberrant GABA-ergic hyperinnervation may contribute to epileptiform activity in the subicular regions adjacent to sclerotic areas of the hippocampus.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Chlorides / metabolism*
  • Epilepsy / metabolism*
  • Epilepsy / pathology
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Ion Transport*
  • Male
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neocortex / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Sclerosis / metabolism
  • Sodium-Potassium-Chloride Symporters / metabolism*
  • Solute Carrier Family 12, Member 2
  • Symporters / metabolism
  • Temporal Lobe / metabolism*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / physiology*


  • Chlorides
  • SLC12A2 protein, human
  • Slc12a2 protein, rat
  • Sodium-Potassium-Chloride Symporters
  • Solute Carrier Family 12, Member 2
  • Symporters
  • potassium-chloride symporters
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid