Alterations in sociability and functional brain connectivity caused by early-life seizures are prevented by bumetanide

Neurobiol Dis. 2015 May:77:204-19. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2015.02.015. Epub 2015 Mar 10.


There is a well-described association between infantile epilepsy and pervasive cognitive and behavioral deficits, including a high incidence of autism spectrum disorders. Despite the robustness of the relationship between early-life seizures and the development of autism, the pathophysiological mechanism by which this occurs has not been explored. As a result of increasing evidence that autism is a disorder of brain connectivity we hypothesized that early-life seizures would interrupt normal brain connectivity during brain maturation and result in an autistic phenotype. Normal rat pups underwent recurrent flurothyl-induced seizures from postnatal (P)days 5-14 and then tested, along with controls, for developmental alterations of development brain oscillatory activity from P18-P25. Specifically we wished to understand how normal changes in rhythmicity in and between brain regions change as a function of age and if this rhythmicity is altered or interrupted by early life seizures. In rat pups with early-life seizures, field recordings from dorsal and ventral hippocampus and prefrontal cortex demonstrated marked increase in coherence as well as a decrease in voltage correlation at all bandwidths compared to controls while there were minimal differences in total power and relative power spectral densities. Rats with early-life seizures had resulting impairment in the sociability and social novelty tests but demonstrated no evidence of increased activity or generalized anxiety as measured in the open field. In addition, rats with early-life seizures had lower seizure thresholds than controls, indicating long-standing alterations in the excitatory/inhibition balance. Bumetanide, a pharmacological agent that blocks the activity of NKCC1 and induces a significant shift of ECl toward more hyperpolarized values, administration at the time of the seizures precluded the subsequent abnormalities in coherence and voltage correlation and resulted in normal sociability and seizure threshold. Taken together these findings indicate that early-life seizures alter the development of oscillations and result in autistic-like behaviors. The altered communication between these brain regions could reflect the physiological underpinnings underlying social cognitive deficits seen in autism spectrum disorders.

Keywords: Coherence; Development; Epilepsy; Power spectrum; Sociability; Voltage correlations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Bumetanide / therapeutic use*
  • Cell Count
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electroencephalography
  • Exploratory Behavior / drug effects
  • Fourier Analysis
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Seizures / pathology*
  • Seizures / prevention & control*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Sodium Potassium Chloride Symporter Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Theta Rhythm


  • Sodium Potassium Chloride Symporter Inhibitors
  • Bumetanide