Maintaining average activity within a set-point range constitutes a fundamental property of central neural circuits. However, whether and how activity set points are regulated remains unknown. Integrating genome-scale metabolic modeling and experimental study of neuronal homeostasis, we identified mitochondrial dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH) as a regulator of activity set points in hippocampal networks. The DHODH inhibitor teriflunomide stably suppressed mean firing rates via synaptic and intrinsic excitability mechanisms by modulating mitochondrial Ca2+ buffering and spare respiratory capacity. Bi-directional activity perturbations under DHODH blockade triggered firing rate compensation, while stabilizing firing to the lower level, indicating a change in the firing rate set point. In vivo, teriflunomide decreased CA3-CA1 synaptic transmission and CA1 mean firing rate and attenuated susceptibility to seizures, even in the intractable Dravet syndrome epilepsy model. Our results uncover mitochondria as a key regulator of activity set points, demonstrate the differential regulation of set points and compensatory mechanisms, and propose a new strategy to treat epilepsy.
Keywords: Dravet syndrome; calcium; dihydroorotate dehydrogenase; epilepsy; firing rate; hippocampus; homeostasis; mitochondria; neuronal metabolism; set point.
Copyright © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.