Hyperthermia-induced febrile seizures (FSs) are the most common seizures during childhood, and prolonged complex FSs can result in the development of epilepsy. Currently, GABAA receptor modulators such as benzodiazepines and barbiturates are used as medications for FSs with the aim of enhancing GABA-mediated inhibition of neuronal activity. However, it is still up for debate whether these enhancers of GABAergic neurotransmission could depolarize immature neurons with relatively higher levels of the intracellular Cl- in the developing brain during FSs. Here, we performed simultaneous video-local field potential monitoring to determine whether benzodiazepines and barbiturates affect the phenotypes of FSs in postnatal day (P)11 and P14 mice. We found that low-dose administration of diazepam decreased the incidence of clonic seizures at P11. We also found that high-dose administration of diazepam and pentobarbital exacerbated the behavioral and electrophysiological phenotypes of the induction phase of experimental FSs at P11 but not at P14. We further found that the deteriorated phenotypes at P11 were suppressed when Na+K+2Cl- cotransporter isoform 1 (NKCC1), which mediates Cl- influx, was blocked by treatment with the diuretic bumetanide. Though our findings do not exclude the involvement of sedation effect of high-dose GABAA receptor modulators in worsening experimental FSs at P11, pharmacological enhancement of GABAergic signaling could aggravate seizure activity in the early phase of FSs.
Keywords: GABA; LFP; excitatory GABA; febrile seizure.