Amyloid beta-induced neuronal hyperexcitability triggers progressive epilepsy

J Neurosci. 2009 Mar 18;29(11):3453-62. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5215-08.2009.


Alzheimer's disease is associated with an increased risk of unprovoked seizures. However, the underlying mechanisms of seizure induction remain elusive. Here, we performed video-EEG recordings in mice carrying mutant human APPswe and PS1dE9 genes (APdE9 mice) and their wild-type littermates to determine the prevalence of unprovoked seizures. In two recording episodes at the onset of amyloid beta (Abeta) pathogenesis (3 and 4.5 months of age), at least one unprovoked seizure was detected in 65% of APdE9 mice, of which 46% had multiple seizures and 38% had a generalized seizure. None of the wild-type mice had seizures. In a subset of APdE9 mice, seizure phenotype was associated with a loss of calbindin-D28k immunoreactivity in dentate granular cells and ectopic expression of neuropeptide Y in mossy fibers. In APdE9 mice, persistently decreased resting membrane potential in neocortical layer 2/3 pyramidal cells and dentate granule cells underpinned increased network excitability as identified by patch-clamp electrophysiology. At stimulus strengths evoking single-component EPSPs in wild-type littermates, APdE9 mice exhibited decreased action potential threshold and burst firing of pyramidal cells. Bath application (1 h) of Abeta1-42 or Abeta25-35 (proto-)fibrils but not oligomers induced significant membrane depolarization of pyramidal cells and increased the activity of excitatory cell populations as measured by extracellular field recordings in the juvenile rodent brain, confirming the pathogenic significance of bath-applied Abeta (proto-)fibrils. Overall, these data identify fibrillar Abeta as a pathogenic entity powerfully altering neuronal membrane properties such that hyperexcitability of pyramidal cells culminates in epileptiform activity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Epilepsy / etiology*
  • Epilepsy / genetics
  • Epilepsy / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Peptide Fragments / toxicity*
  • Pyramidal Cells / metabolism
  • Pyramidal Cells / pathology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Peptide Fragments
  • amyloid beta-protein (1-42)
  • amyloid beta-protein (25-35)