Heightened neural excitability in infancy and childhood results in increased susceptibility to seizures. Such early-life seizures are associated with language deficits and autism that can result from aberrant development of the auditory cortex. Here, we show that early-life seizures disrupt a critical period (CP) for tonotopic map plasticity in primary auditory cortex (A1). We show that this CP is characterized by a prevalence of "silent," NMDA-receptor (NMDAR)-only, glutamate receptor synapses in auditory cortex that become "unsilenced" due to activity-dependent AMPA receptor (AMPAR) insertion. Induction of seizures prior to this CP occludes tonotopic map plasticity by prematurely unsilencing NMDAR-only synapses. Further, brief treatment with the AMPAR antagonist NBQX following seizures, prior to the CP, prevents synapse unsilencing and permits subsequent A1 plasticity. These findings reveal that early-life seizures modify CP regulators and suggest that therapeutic targets for early post-seizure treatment can rescue CP plasticity.
Keywords: AMPA receptor; NBQX; NMDA receptor; auditory cortex; autism; development; epilepsy; neurodevelopmental disorders; silent synapses; tonotopic plasticity.
Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.