Balance of inhibitory and excitatory synaptic activity is altered in fast-spiking interneurons in experimental cortical dysplasia

J Neurophysiol. 2009 Oct;102(4):2514-25. doi: 10.1152/jn.00557.2009. Epub 2009 Aug 19.


Cortical dysplasia (CD) is a common cause of intractable epilepsy in children and adults. We have studied rats irradiated in utero as a model of CD to better understand mechanisms that underlie dysplasia-associated epilepsy. Prior studies have shown a reduction in the number of cortical interneurons and in the frequency of inhibitory postsynaptic currents (IPSCs) in pyramidal cells in this model. They have also shown a reduced frequency of spontaneous and miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) in the surviving cortical interneurons. However, the inhibitory synaptic contacts were not examined in that study. The current experiments were performed to assess inhibitory synaptic activity in fast-spiking (FS) interneurons in irradiated rats and controls and the balance of excitatory and inhibitory synaptic activity in these cells. Whole cell recordings were obtained from layer IV FS cells in controls and comparable FS cells in irradiated rats. The frequency of spontaneous and miniature IPSCs was reduced in dysplastic cortex, but the amplitude of these currents was unchanged. Stimulus-evoked IPSCs showed short-term depression in control and short-term facilitation in dysplastic cortex. Simultaneous recording of spontaneous EPSCs and IPSCs showed a shift in the ratio of excitation-to-inhibition in favor of inhibition in FS cells from dysplastic cortex. The same shift toward inhibition was seen when miniature EPSCs and IPSCs were examined. These results show that FS cells in dysplastic cortex have a relative lack of excitatory drive. This may result in an important class of inhibitory cells that are less able to perform their normal function especially in periods of increased excitatory activity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Inhibitory Postsynaptic Potentials
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Male
  • Malformations of Cortical Development / physiopathology*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Parvalbumins / metabolism
  • Radiation Injuries, Experimental / physiopathology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*
  • Time Factors


  • Parvalbumins