Glutamate currents in morphologically identified human dentate granule cells in temporal lobe epilepsy
Isokawa, M.; Levesque, M.; Fried, I.; Engel, J.
Journal of Neurophysiology 77(6): 3355-3369
Glutamate-receptor-mediated synaptic transmission was studied in morphologically identified hippocampal dentate granule cells (DGCs; n = 31) with the use of whole cell patch-clamp recording and intracellular injection of biocytin or Lucifer yellow in slices prepared from surgically removed medial temporal lobe specimens of epileptic patients (14 specimens from 14 patients). In the current-clamp recording, low-frequency stimulation of the perforant path generated depolarizing postsynaptic potentials that consisted of excitatory postsynaptic potentials and phase-inverted inhibitory postsynaptic potentials mediated by the gamma-aminobutyric acid-A (GABA(A)) receptor at a resting membrane potential of -62.7 +/- 2.0 (SE) mV. In the voltage-clamp recording, two glutamate conductances, a fast alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid (AMPA)-receptor-mediated excitatory postsynaptic current (EPSC; AMPA EPSC) and a slowly developing N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-receptor-mediated EPSC (NMDA EPSC), were isolated in the presence of a GABA(A) receptor antagonist. NMDA EPSCs showed a voltage-dependent increase in conductance with depolarization by exhibiting an N-shaped current-voltage relationship. The slope conductance of the NMDA EPSC ranged from 1.1 to 9.4 nS in 31 DGCs, reaching up to twice the size of the AMPA conductance. This widely varying size of the NMDA conductance resulted in the generation of double-peaked EPSCs and a nonlinear increase of the slope conductance of up to 37.5 nS with positive membrane potentials, which resembled "paroxysmal currents," in a subpopulation of the neurons. In contrast, AMPA EPSCs, which were isolated in the presence of an NMDA receptor antagonist (2-amino-5-phosphonovaleric acid), showed voltage-independent linear changes in the current-voltage relationship and were blocked by 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione. The AMPA conductance showed little variance, regardless of the size of the NMDA conductance of a given neuron. The average AMPA slope conductance was 5.28 +/- 0.65 (SE) nS in 31 human DGCs. This value was similar to AMPA EPSC conductances in normal rat DGCs (5.35 +/- 0.52 nS, mean +/- SE; n = 55). Dendritic morphology and spine density were quantified in the individual DGCs to assess epileptic pathology. Dendritic spine density showed an inverse correlation (r2 = 0.705) with a slower rise time and a longer half-width of the excitatory postsynaptic potentials mediated by the NMDA receptor. It is concluded that both AMPA and NMDA EPSCs contribute to human DGC synaptic transmission in epileptic hippocampus. However, a wide range of changes in the slope conductance of the NMDA EPSCs suggests that the NMDA-receptor-mediated conductance could be altered in human epileptic DGCs. These changes may influence the generation of chronic subthreshold epileptogenic synaptic activity and give rise to pathological excitation leading to epileptic seizures and dendritic pathology.