The hippocampus is often considered to play a major role in the pathophysiology of mesial temporal lobe epilepsy. However, emerging clinical and experimental evidence suggests that parahippocampal areas may contribute to a greater extent to limbic seizure initiation, and perhaps epileptogenesis. To date, little is known about the participation of entorhinal and perirhinal networks to epileptiform synchronization. Here, we addressed this issue by using simultaneous field potential recordings in horizontal rat brain slices containing interconnected limbic structures that included the hippocampus proper. Epileptiform discharges were disclosed by bath applying the convulsant drug 4-aminopyridine (50 μM) or by superfusing Mg2+-free medium. In the presence of 4-aminopyridine, slow interictal- (duration=2.34±0.29 s; interval of occurrence=25.75±2.11 s, n=16) and ictal-like (duration=31.25±3.34 s; interval of occurrence=196.96±21.56 s, n=17) discharges were recorded in entorhinal and perirhinal cortices after abating the propagation of CA3-driven interictal activity to these areas following extended hippocampal knife cuts. Simultaneous recordings obtained from the medial and lateral entorhinal cortex, and from the perirhinal cortex revealed that interictal and ictal discharges could initiate from any of these areas and propagate to the neighboring structure with delays of 8-66 ms. However, slow interictal- and ictal-like events more often originated in the medial entorhinal cortex and perirhinal cortex, respectively. Cutting the connections between entorhinal and perirhinal cortices (n=10), or functional inactivation of cortical areas by local application of a glutamatergic receptor antagonist (n=11) made independent epileptiform activity occur in all areas. These procedures also shortened ictal discharge duration in the entorhinal cortices, but not in the perirhinal area. Similar results could be obtained by applying Mg2+-free medium (n=7). These findings indicate that parahippocampal networks provide independent epileptiform synchronization sufficient to sustain limbic seizures as well as that the perirhinal cortex plays a preferential role in in vitro ictogenesis. © 2004 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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