Regionally localized recurrent excitation in the dentate gyrus of a cortical contusion model of posttraumatic epilepsy

Robert F. Hunt, Stephen W. Scheff, Bret N. Smith

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76 Scopus citations


Posttraumatic epilepsy is a frequent consequence of brain trauma, but relatively little is known about how neuronal circuits are chronically altered after closed head injury. We examined whether local recurrent excitatory synaptic connections form between dentate granule cells in mice 8-12 wk after cortical contusion injury. Mice were monitored for behavioral seizures shortly after brain injury and ≤10 wk postinjury. Injury-induced seizures were observed in 15% of mice, and spontaneous seizures were observed weeks later in 40% of mice. Timm's staining revealed mossy fiber sprouting into the inner molecular layer of the dorsal dentate gyrus ipsilateral to the injury in 95% of mice but not contralateral to the injury or in uninjured controls. Whole cell patch-clamp recordings were made from granule cells in isolated hippocampal brain slices. Cells in slices with posttraumatic mossy fiber sprouting had an increased excitatory postsynaptic current (EPSC) frequency compared with cells in slices without sprouting from injured and control animals (P < 0.001). When perfused with Mg2+-free artificial cerebrospinal fluid containing 100 μM picro-toxin, these cells had spontaneous bursts of EPSCs and action potentials. Focal glutamate photostimulation of the granule cell layer evoked a burst of EPSCs and action potentials indicative of recurrent excitatory connections in granule cells of slices with mossy fiber sprouting. In granule cells of slices without sprouting from injured animals and controls, spontaneous or photostimulation-evoked epilep-tiform activity was never observed. These results suggest that a new regionally localized excitatory network forms between dentate granule cells near the injury site within weeks after cortical contusion head injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1490-1500
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (all)
  • Physiology


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