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Reduced Cholecystokinin-Expressing Interneuron Input Contributes to Disinhibition of the Hippocampal CA2 Region in a Mouse Model of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy

Whitebirch, Alexander C; Santoro, Bina; Barnett, Anastasia; Lisgaras, Christos Panagiotis; Scharfman, Helen E; Siegelbaum, Steven A
A significant proportion of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) patients experience drug-resistant seizures associated with mesial temporal sclerosis, in which there is extensive cell loss in the hippocampal CA1 and CA3 subfields, with a relative sparing of dentate gyrus granule cells and CA2 pyramidal neurons (PNs). A role for CA2 in seizure generation was suggested based on findings of a reduction in CA2 synaptic inhibition (Williamson and Spencer, 1994) and the presence of interictal-like spike activity in CA2 in resected hippocampal tissue from TLE patients (Wittner et al., 2009). We recently found that in the pilocarpine-induced status epilepticus (PILO-SE) mouse model of TLE there was an increase in CA2 intrinsic excitability associated with a loss of CA2 synaptic inhibition. Furthermore, chemogenetic silencing of CA2 significantly reduced seizure frequency, consistent with a role of CA2 in promoting seizure generation and/or propagation (Whitebirch et al., 2022). In the present study, we explored the cellular basis of this inhibitory deficit using immunohistochemical and electrophysiological approaches in PILO-SE male and female mice. We report a widespread decrease in the density of pro-cholecystokinin-immunopositive (CCK+) interneurons and a functional impairment of CCK+ interneuron-mediated inhibition of CA2 PNs. We also found a disruption in the perisomatic perineuronal net in the CA2 stratum pyramidale. Such pathologic alterations may contribute to an enhanced excitation of CA2 PNs and CA2-dependent seizure activity in the PILO-SE mouse model.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Impaired synaptic inhibition in hippocampal circuits has been identified as a key feature that contributes to the emergence and propagation of seizure activity in human patients and animal models of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). Among the hippocampal subfields, the CA2 region is particularly resilient to seizure-associated neurodegeneration and has been suggested to play a key role in seizure activity in TLE. Here we report that perisomatic inhibition of CA2 pyramidal neurons mediated by cholecystokinin-expressing interneurons is selectively reduced in acute hippocampal slices from epileptic mice. Parvalbumin-expressing interneurons, in contrast, appear relatively conserved in epileptic mice. These findings advance our understanding of the cellular mechanisms underlying inhibitory disruption in hippocampal circuits in a mouse model of spontaneous recurring seizures.
PMID: 37643861
ISSN: 1529-2401
CID: 5571752

Interictal spikes in Alzheimer's disease: Preclinical evidence for dominance of the dentate gyrus and cholinergic control by medial septum

Lisgaras, Christos Panagiotis; Scharfman, Helen E
Interictal spikes (IIS) are a common type of abnormal electrical activity in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and preclinical models. The brain regions where IIS are largest are not known but are important because such data would suggest sites that contribute to IIS generation. Because hippocampus and cortex exhibit altered excitability in AD models, we asked which areas dominate the activity during IIS along the cortical-CA1-dentate gyrus (DG) dorso-ventral axis. Because medial septal (MS) cholinergic neurons are overactive when IIS typically occur, we also tested the novel hypothesis that silencing the MS cholinergic neurons selectively would reduce IIS. We used mice that simulate aspects of AD: Tg2576 mice, presenilin 2 (PS2) knockout mice and Ts65Dn mice. To selectively silence MS cholinergic neurons, Tg2576 mice were bred with choline-acetyltransferase (ChAT)-Cre mice and offspring were injected in the MS with AAV encoding inhibitory designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADDs). We recorded local field potentials along the cortical-CA1-DG axis using silicon probes during wakefulness, slow-wave sleep (SWS) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. We detected IIS in all transgenic or knockout mice but not age-matched controls. IIS were detectable throughout the cortical-CA1-DG axis and occurred primarily during REM sleep. In all 3 mouse lines, IIS amplitudes were significantly greater in the DG granule cell layer vs. CA1 pyramidal layer or overlying cortex. Current source density analysis showed robust and early current sources in the DG, and additional sources in CA1 and the cortex also. Selective chemogenetic silencing of MS cholinergic neurons significantly reduced IIS rate during REM sleep without affecting the overall duration, number of REM bouts, latency to REM sleep, or theta power during REM. Notably, two control interventions showed no effects. Consistent maximal amplitude and strong current sources of IIS in the DG suggest that the DG is remarkably active during IIS. In addition, selectively reducing MS cholinergic tone, at times when MS is hyperactive, could be a new strategy to reduce IIS in AD.
PMID: 37714307
ISSN: 1095-953x
CID: 5557782

Assessments of dentate gyrus function: discoveries and debates

Borzello, Mia; Ramirez, Steve; Treves, Alessandro; Lee, Inah; Scharfman, Helen; Stark, Craig; Knierim, James J; Rangel, Lara M
There has been considerable speculation regarding the function of the dentate gyrus (DG) - a subregion of the mammalian hippocampus - in learning and memory. In this Perspective article, we compare leading theories of DG function. We note that these theories all critically rely on the generation of distinct patterns of activity in the region to signal differences between experiences and to reduce interference between memories. However, these theories are divided by the roles they attribute to the DG during learning and recall and by the contributions they ascribe to specific inputs or cell types within the DG. These differences influence the information that the DG is thought to impart to downstream structures. We work towards a holistic view of the role of DG in learning and memory by first developing three critical questions to foster a dialogue between the leading theories. We then evaluate the extent to which previous studies address our questions, highlight remaining areas of conflict, and suggest future experiments to bridge these theories.
PMID: 37316588
ISSN: 1471-0048
CID: 5535102

Cannabidiol modulates excitatory-inhibitory ratio to counter hippocampal hyperactivity

Rosenberg, Evan C; Chamberland, Simon; Bazelot, Michael; Nebet, Erica R; Wang, Xiaohan; McKenzie, Sam; Jain, Swati; Greenhill, Stuart; Wilson, Max; Marley, Nicole; Salah, Alejandro; Bailey, Shanice; Patra, Pabitra Hriday; Rose, Rebecca; Chenouard, Nicolas; Sun, Simón E D; Jones, Drew; Buzsáki, György; Devinsky, Orrin; Woodhall, Gavin; Scharfman, Helen E; Whalley, Benjamin J; Tsien, Richard W
Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-euphoric component of cannabis, reduces seizures in multiple forms of pediatric epilepsies, but the mechanism(s) of anti-seizure action remain unclear. In one leading model, CBD acts at glutamatergic axon terminals, blocking the pro-excitatory actions of an endogenous membrane phospholipid, lysophosphatidylinositol (LPI), at the G-protein-coupled receptor GPR55. However, the impact of LPI-GPR55 signaling at inhibitory synapses and in epileptogenesis remains underexplored. We found that LPI transiently increased hippocampal CA3-CA1 excitatory presynaptic release probability and evoked synaptic strength in WT mice, while attenuating inhibitory postsynaptic strength by decreasing GABAA2 and gephyrin puncta. LPI effects at excitatory and inhibitory synapses were eliminated by CBD pre-treatment and absent after GPR55 deletion. Acute pentylenetrazole-induced seizures elevated GPR55 and LPI levels, and chronic lithium-pilocarpine-induced epileptogenesis potentiated LPI's pro-excitatory effects. We propose that CBD exerts potential anti-seizure effects by blocking LPI's synaptic effects and dampening hyperexcitability.
PMID: 36787750
ISSN: 1097-4199
CID: 5432102

High Frequency Oscillations (250-500Hz) in Animal Models of Alzheimer's Disease and Two Animal Models of Epilepsy

Lisgaras, Christos Panagiotis; Scharfman, Helen E
OBJECTIVE:To test the hypothesis that high frequency oscillations (HFOs) between 250 and 500Hz occur in mouse models of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and thus are not unique to epilepsy. METHODS:Experiments were conducted in three mouse models of AD: Tg2576 mice that simulate a form of familial AD, presenilin 2 knock-out (PS2KO) mice, and the Ts65Dn model of Down's syndrome. We recorded HFOs using wideband (0.1-500Hz, 2kHz) intra-hippocampal and cortical surface EEG at 1month until 24months-old during wakefulness, slow wave sleep (SWS) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Interictal spikes (IIS) and seizures were also analyzed for the possible presence of HFOs. Comparisons were made to the intra-hippocampal kainic acid and pilocarpine models of epilepsy. RESULTS:We describe for the first time that hippocampal and cortical HFOs are a new EEG abnormality in AD mouse models. HFOs occurred in all transgenic mice but no controls. They were also detectable as early as 1month of age and prior to amyloid-β plaque neuropathology. HFOs were most frequent during SWS (vs. REM or wakefulness). Notably, HFOs in the AD and epilepsy models were indistinguishable in both spectral frequency and duration. HFOs also occurred during IIS and seizures in the AD models, although with altered spectral properties compared to isolated HFOs. SIGNIFICANCE/CONCLUSIONS:Our data demonstrate that HFOs, an epilepsy biomarker with high translational value, are not unique to epilepsy and thus not disease specific. Our findings also strengthen the idea of hyperexcitability in AD and its significant overlap with epilepsy. HFOs in AD mouse models may serve as an EEG biomarker which is detectable from the scalp and thus amenable to non-invasive detection in people at risk for AD.
PMID: 36346209
ISSN: 1528-1167
CID: 5357192

Hippocampal mossy cells exhibit some of the earliest signs of increased excitability in the Tg2576 model of Alzheimer"™s disease neuropathology

Alcantara-Gonzalez, David; Criscuolo, Chiara; Botterill, Justin J.; Lisgaras, Christos; Kennedy, Meghan; Scharfman, Helen E.
Background: Alzheimer"™s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative illness characterized by progressive accumulation of amyloid beta (Aβ) and neurofibrillary tangles, with cognitive impairment and altered neural activity. Hyperexcitability in the early stages of AD contribute to Aβ accumulation and cognitive impairment, aggravating the progression of AD. However, the hyperexcitability origin is not clear. This study aimed to test whether mossy cells (MCs), an excitatory cell of the hippocampal dentate gyrus, show increased excitability at early stages of AD and contribute to the increased network excitability generation. Indeed, alterations of MCs contribute to hyperexcitability and cognitive impairment in epilepsy. However, the role of MCs in AD has not been substantially explored. Methods: Intrinsic and synaptic properties of MCs and granule cells (GCs) from WT and Tg2576 mice at early ages (1-2 m.o.) were characterized by whole-cell patch-clamp recordings. Synaptic properties included the frequency and amplitude of spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) and excitatory and inhibitory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs and IPSCs). Deterioration in MCs morphology was evaluated using Nissl staining and GluR2/3 labeling by light- and confocal microscopy. Aβ deposition was evaluated using the McSA1 antibody. Results: Tg2576 GCs did not have any significant difference in their intrinsic properties, as we shown previously in mice ∼3 m.o. However, an enhanced excitatory and inhibitory input to GCs, depicted by augmented IPSC (7.16 vs 14.04 events/s) and NMDA-mediated EPSC frequencies (0.81 vs 1.41 events/s) were found. Interestingly, Tg2576 MCs had an augmented EPSP frequency (5.75 vs 9.44 events/s), and their intrinsic properties showed a depolarized RMP (-72.88 vs -58.36 mV), and reduced rheobase (145.56 vs 47.14 pA), AP amplitude (98.14 vs 76.66 mV), time-to-peak (552.75 vs 266.16 ms) and maximum rise (171.44 vs 88.68 mV/ms) and decay slopes (-61.17 vs -42.38 mV/ms). The correlation between #APs and current injected showed Tg2576 MCs fired significantly more APs (SEZD = 0.34; z = 2.48). Tg2576 MCs showed robust intracellular Aβ aggregation without any significant morphological change. Conclusions: MCs changes in excitability and early accumulation of Aβ suggest that MCs could be the cause of increased excitability occurring later in GCs. In this manner, MCs could be an important contributor to AD.
ISSN: 1552-5260
CID: 5393942

Enhanced excitability of the hippocampal CA2 region and its contribution to seizure activity in a mouse model of temporal lobe epilepsy

Whitebirch, Alexander C; LaFrancois, John J; Jain, Swati; Leary, Paige; Santoro, Bina; Siegelbaum, Steven A; Scharfman, Helen E
The hippocampal CA2 region, an area important for social memory, has been suspected to play a role in temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) because of its resistance to degeneration observed in neighboring CA1 and CA3 regions in both humans and rodent models of TLE. However, little is known about whether alterations in CA2 properties promote seizure generation or propagation. Here, we addressed the role of CA2 using the pilocarpine-induced status epilepticus model of TLE. Ex vivo electrophysiological recordings from acute hippocampal slices revealed a set of coordinated changes that enhance CA2 PC intrinsic excitability, reduce CA2 inhibitory input, and increase CA2 excitatory output to its major CA1 synaptic target. Moreover, selective chemogenetic silencing of CA2 pyramidal cells caused a significant decrease in the frequency of spontaneous seizures measured in vivo. These findings provide the first evidence that CA2 actively contributes to TLE seizure activity and may thus be a promising therapeutic target.
PMID: 35987207
ISSN: 1097-4199
CID: 5300432

Robust chronic convulsive seizures, high frequency oscillations, and human seizure onset patterns in an intrahippocampal kainic acid model in mice

Lisgaras, Christos Panagiotis; Scharfman, Helen E
Intrahippocampal kainic acid (IHKA) has been widely implemented to simulate temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), but evidence of robust seizures is usually limited. To resolve this problem, we slightly modified previous methods and show robust seizures are common and frequent in both male and female mice. We employed continuous wideband video-EEG monitoring from 4 recording sites to best demonstrate the seizures. We found many more convulsive seizures than most studies have reported. Mortality was low. Analysis of convulsive seizures at 2-4 and 10-12 wks post-IHKA showed a robust frequency (2-4 per day on average) and duration (typically 20-30 s) at each time. Comparison of the two timepoints showed that seizure burden became more severe in approximately 50% of the animals. We show that almost all convulsive seizures could be characterized as either low-voltage fast or hypersynchronous onset seizures, which has not been reported in a mouse model of epilepsy and is important because these seizure types are found in humans. In addition, we report that high frequency oscillations (>250 Hz) occur, resembling findings from IHKA in rats and TLE patients. Pathology in the hippocampus at the site of IHKA injection was similar to mesial temporal lobe sclerosis and reduced contralaterally. In summary, our methods produce a model of TLE in mice with robust convulsive seizures, and there is variable progression. HFOs are robust also, and seizures have onset patterns and pathology like human TLE. SIGNIFICANCE: Although the IHKA model has been widely used in mice for epilepsy research, there is variation in outcomes, with many studies showing few robust seizures long-term, especially convulsive seizures. We present an implementation of the IHKA model with frequent convulsive seizures that are robust, meaning they are >10 s and associated with complex high frequency rhythmic activity recorded from 2 hippocampal and 2 cortical sites. Seizure onset patterns usually matched the low-voltage fast and hypersynchronous seizures in TLE. Importantly, there is low mortality, and both sexes can be used. We believe our results will advance the ability to use the IHKA model of TLE in mice. The results also have important implications for our understanding of HFOs, progression, and other topics of broad interest to the epilepsy research community. Finally, the results have implications for preclinical drug screening because seizure frequency increased in approximately half of the mice after a 6 wk. interval, suggesting that the typical 2 wk. period for monitoring seizure frequency is insufficient.
PMID: 35091040
ISSN: 1095-953x
CID: 5154982


Chapter by: Scharfman, Helen E.; Peterson, Allison; Binder, Devin K.
in: Neurobiology of Brain Disorders: Biological Basis of Neurological and Psychiatric Disorders, Second Edition by
[S.l.] : Elsevier, 2022
pp. 753-780
ISBN: 9780323898256
CID: 5369582

Direct synaptic excitation between hilar mossy cells revealed with a targeted voltage sensor

Ma, Yihe; Bayguinov, Peter O; McMahon, Shane M; Scharfman, Helen E; Jackson, Meyer B
The dentate gyrus not only gates the flow of information into the hippocampus, it also integrates and processes this information. Mossy cells (MCs) are a major type of excitatory neuron strategically located in the hilus of the dentate gyrus where they can contribute to this processing through networks of synapses with inhibitory neurons and dentate granule cells. Some prior work has suggested that MCs can form excitatory synapses with other MCs, but the role of these synapses in the network activity of the dentate gyrus has received little attention. Here, we investigated synaptic inputs to MCs in mouse hippocampal slices using a genetically encoded hybrid voltage sensor (hVOS) targeted to MCs by Cre-lox technology. This enabled optical recording of voltage changes from multiple MCs simultaneously. Stimulating granule cells and CA3 pyramidal cells activated well-established inputs to MCs and elicited synaptic responses as expected. However, the weak blockade of MC responses to granule cell layer stimulation by DCG-IV raised the possibility of another source of excitation. To evaluate synapses between MCs as this source, single MCs were stimulated focally. Stimulation of one MC above its action potential threshold evoked depolarizing responses in neighboring MCs that depended on glutamate receptors. Short latency responses of MCs to other MCs did not depend on release from granule cell axons. However, granule cells did contribute to the longer latency responses of MCs to stimulation of other MCs. Thus, MCs transmit their activity to other MCs both through direct synaptic coupling and through polysynaptic coupling with dentate granule cells. MC-MC synapses can redistribute information entering the dentate gyrus and thus shape and modulate the electrical activity underlying hippocampal functions such as navigation and memory, as well as excessive excitation during seizures.
PMID: 34478219
ISSN: 1098-1063
CID: 5011812