Basal ganglia are engaged in seizure propagation, control of seizures, and in epilepsy-induced neuroplasticity. Here, we tested the hypothesis that previously observed histological and neurochemical changes in the striatum of amygdala-kindled rats as a model of temporal lobe epilepsy are reflected in alterations of spontaneous striatal firing rates and patterns. Because experimental histological and clinical imaging studies indicated a bilateral involvement of the striatum in epilepsy-induced neuroplasticity, in vivo single-unit recordings were done bilaterally 1 day after a kindled seizure in rats kindled via the right amygdala. Compared to control animals, we observed (1) an increased irregularity of firing of neurons classified as striatal projection neurons and located in the anterior striatum ipsilateral to the kindling side and (2) an increased spontaneous activity of neurons classified as striatal projection neurons and located in the anterior striatum contralateral to the kindling side. These hyperactive neurons were located within the dorsolateral (sensorimotor) subregion of the striatum. The present study represents the first evidence of kindling-induced bilateral changes in electrophysiological properties of striatal neurons and demonstrates that the striatum is strongly affected by the functional reorganization of neurocircuits associated with kindling. The changes are probably caused by a combination of several factors including disturbed bilateral limbic and neocortical input as well as disturbed intrastriatal GABAergic function. The changes reflect a pathophysiological state predisposing the brain to epileptic discharge propagation or else (contralateral striatum) could represent a compensatory network of inhibitory circuits activated to prevent the propagation of seizure activity. The findings are relevant for a better understanding of kindling-induced network changes and might provide new targets for therapeutic manipulations in epilepsies.
2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.