Prolonged seizures in the adult brain causes neuronal loss in the hippocampus and aberrant growth (sprouting) of granule cell axons (mossy fibers) in the supragranular zone of the fascia dentata and stratum infrapyramidale of CA3. There is considerable evidence that these changes in neuronal growth following seizures are age related, with younger animals having fewer reactive changes following prolonged seizures than older animals. However, there is little information available regarding the age at which seizures in the developing brain result in alterations in axonal growth and synapse formation. In this study, we evaluated the effects of kainic acid (KA)-induced seizures during development on synaptic reorganization using the expression of growth-associated protein-43 (GAP-43), a marker for synaptogenesis and Timm stain which detects the presence of zinc in granule cell axons. Age specific doses of KA were used to induce seizures of similar intensity at various ages (postnatal days (P) 12, 21, 25, 35, 45, 60) in Sprague-Dawley rats. Up to the age of P25, there were no differences in either Timm or GAP-43 staining between animals with KA seizures and controls. In P25 and older KA-treated rats, Timm staining was found in the supragranular layer of the dentate gyrus. This staining increased with age at the time of KA injection. Seizures in adult (P60), but not younger rats also resulted in increased staining in the suprapyramidal layer of the CA3 subfields. Changes in GAP-43 were delayed compared to the Timm staining with no differences between KA-treated animals and controls until P35 when a band of GAP-43 immunostaining appeared in the supragranular inner molecular layer, progressively increasing in intensity and thickness with time. This study demonstrates that seizure-induced reactive synaptogenesis is age-related. Since both Timm and GAP-43 reflect different aspects of reactive synaptogenesis, used in combination these methods provide useful information about the structural changes following seizures during development.
Copyright 1998 Elsevier Science B.V.