Formation of new recurrent excitatory circuits after brain injuries has been hypothesized as a major factor contributing to epileptogen- esis. Increases in total axonal length and the density of synaptic boutons are present in layer V pyramidal neurons of chronic partial isolations of rat neocortex, a model of posttraumatic epileptogenesis. To explore the functional consequences of these changes, we used laser-scanning photostimulation combined with whole-cell patch-clamp recording from neurons in layer V of somatosensory cortex to map changes in excitatory synaptic connectivity after injury. Coronal slices were submerged in artificial CSF (23°C) containing 100 ? M caged glutamate, APV (2-amino-5-phosphonovaleric acid), and high divalent cation concentration to block polysynaptic responses. Focal uncaging of glutamate, accomplished by switching a pulsed UV laser to give a 200–400 ? s light stimulus, evoked single- or multiple-component composite EPSCs. In neurons of the partially isolated cortex, there were significant increases in the fraction of uncaging sites from which EPSCs could be evoked (“hot spots”) and a decrease in the mean amplitude of individual elements in the compositeEPSC.Whenplottedalongthe cortical depth, thechangesinEPSCstookplacemainlybetween150and200 ? maboveandbelow the somata, suggesting a specific enhancement of recurrent excitatory connectivity among layer V pyramidal neurons of the undercut neocortex. These changes may shift the balance within cortical circuits toward increased synaptic excitation and contribute to epileptogenesis.
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