Long-lasting hyperpolarization underlies seizure reduction by low frequency deep brain electrical stimulation

J Physiol. 2013 Nov 15;591(22):5765-90. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2013.253757. Epub 2013 Aug 27.


Mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE) is a common medically refractory neurological disease. Deep brain electrical stimulation (DBS) of grey matter has been used for MTLE with limited success. However, stimulation of a white matter tract connecting the hippocampi, the ventral hippocampal commissure (VHC), with low frequencies that simulate interictal discharges has shown promising results, with seizure reduction greater than 98% in bilateral hippocampi during stimulation and greater than 50% seizure reduction in bilateral hippocampi after treatment. A major hurdle to the implementation and optimization of this treatment is that the mechanisms of seizure reduction by low frequency electrical stimulation (LFS) are not known. The goal of this study is to understand how commissural fibre tract stimulation reduces bilateral hippocampal epileptic activity in an in vitro slice preparation containing bilateral hippocampi connected by the VHC. It is our hypothesis that electrical stimuli induce hyperpolarization lasting hundreds of milliseconds following each pulse which reduces spontaneous epileptic activity during each inter-stimulus interval (ISI). Stimulus-induced long-lasting-hyperpolarization (LLH) can be mediated by GABA(B) inhibitory post-synaptic potentials (IPSPs) or slow after-hyperpolarization (sAHP). To test the role of LLH in effective bilateral seizure reduction by fibre tract stimulation, we measured stimulus-induced hyperpolarization during LFS of the VHC using electrophysiology techniques. Antagonism of the GABA(B) IPSP and/or sAHP diminished stimulus-induced hyperpolarization concurrently with LFS efficacy (greater than 50% reduction). Blocking both the GABA(B) IPSP and sAHP simultaneously eliminated the effect of electrical stimulation on seizure reduction entirely. These data show that LFS of the VHC is an effective protocol for bilateral hippocampal seizure reduction and that its efficacy relies on the induction of long-lasting hyperpolarization mediated through GABA(B) IPSPs and sAHP. Based on this study, optimization of the timing of LFS and LFS-induced-LLH may lead to improved outcomes from DBS treatments for human epilepsy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Deep Brain Stimulation / methods
  • Electric Stimulation / methods
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / therapy*
  • GABA-B Receptor Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology*
  • Inhibitory Postsynaptic Potentials / drug effects
  • Inhibitory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • Neuroglia / drug effects
  • Neuroglia / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Seizures / drug therapy
  • Seizures / physiopathology*
  • Seizures / therapy*


  • GABA-B Receptor Antagonists