Impact of inhibitory constraint of interneurons on neuronal excitability

J Neurophysiol. 2013 Dec;110(11):2520-35. doi: 10.1152/jn.00047.2013. Epub 2013 Sep 11.


Tonic inhibition is thought to dampen the excitability of principal neurons; however, little is known about the role of tonic GABAergic inhibition in interneurons and the impact on principal neuron excitability. In many brain regions, tonic GABAergic inhibition is mediated by extrasynaptic, δ-subunit-containing GABAA receptors (GABAARs). In the present study we demonstrate the importance of GABAAR δ-subunit-mediated tonic inhibition in interneurons. Selective elimination of the GABAAR δ-subunit from interneurons was achieved by crossing a novel floxed Gabrd mouse model with GAD65-Cre mice (Gabrd/Gad mice). Deficits in GABAAR δ-subunit expression in GAD65-positive neurons result in a decrease in tonic GABAergic inhibition and increased excitability of both molecular layer (ML) and stratum radiatum (SR) interneurons. Disinhibition of interneurons results in robust alterations in the neuronal excitability of principal neurons and decreased seizure susceptibility. Gabrd/Gad mice have enhanced tonic and phasic GABAergic inhibition in both CA1 pyramidal neurons and dentate gyrus granule cells (DGGCs). Consistent with alterations in hippocampal excitability, CA1 pyramidal neurons and DGGCs from Gabrd/Gad mice exhibit a shift in the input-output relationship toward decreased excitability compared with those from Cre(-/-) littermates. Furthermore, seizure susceptibility, in response to 20 mg/kg kainic acid, is significantly decreased in Gabrd/Gad mice compared with Cre(-/-) controls. These data demonstrate a critical role for GABAAR δ-subunit-mediated tonic GABAergic inhibition of interneurons on principal neuronal excitability and seizure susceptibility.

Keywords: GABA; floxed Gabrd; interneurons; seizure susceptibility; tonic inhibition.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials*
  • Animals
  • CA1 Region, Hippocampal / cytology
  • CA1 Region, Hippocampal / metabolism
  • CA1 Region, Hippocampal / physiology
  • Dentate Gyrus / cytology
  • Dentate Gyrus / metabolism
  • Dentate Gyrus / physiology
  • GABAergic Neurons / metabolism
  • GABAergic Neurons / physiology*
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase / genetics
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase / metabolism
  • Inhibitory Postsynaptic Potentials*
  • Interneurons / metabolism
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Miniature Postsynaptic Potentials
  • Peptide Fragments / genetics
  • Peptide Fragments / metabolism
  • Pyramidal Cells / metabolism
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology
  • Receptors, GABA-A / genetics
  • Receptors, GABA-A / metabolism


  • Gabrd protein, mouse
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase
  • glutamic acid decarboxylase 65 (524-543), mouse