Developmental cortical malformations comprise a large spectrum of histopathological brain abnormalities and syndromes. Their genetic, developmental and clinical complexity suggests they should be better understood in terms of the complementary action of independently timed perturbations (i.e., the multiple-hit hypothesis). However, understanding the underlying biological processes remains puzzling. Here we induced developmental cortical malformations in offspring, after intraventricular injection of methylazoxymethanol (MAM) in utero in mice. We combined extensive histological and electrophysiological studies to characterize the model. We found that MAM injections at E14 and E15 induced a range of cortical and hippocampal malformations resembling histological alterations of specific genetic mutations and transplacental mitotoxic agent injections. However, in contrast to most of these models, intraventricularly MAM-injected mice remained asymptomatic and showed no clear epilepsy-related phenotype as tested in long-term chronic recordings and with pharmacological manipulations. Instead, they exhibited a non-specific reduction of hippocampal-related brain oscillations (mostly in CA1); including theta, gamma and HFOs; and enhanced thalamocortical spindle activity during non-REM sleep. These data suggest that developmental cortical malformations do not necessarily correlate with epileptiform activity. We propose that the intraventricular in utero MAM approach exhibiting a range of rhythmopathies is a suitable model for multiple-hit studies of associated neurological disorders.
Episodic memory deficit is a common cognitive disorder in human temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). However, no animal model of TLE has been shown to specifically replicate this cognitive dysfunction, which has limited its translational appeal. Here, using a task that tests for nonverbal correlates of episodic-like memory in rats, we show that kainate-treated TLE rats exhibit a selective impairment of the "what-where-when" memory while preserving other forms of hippocampal-dependent memories. Assisted by multisite silicon probes, we recorded from the dorsal hippocampus of behaving animals to control for seizure-related factors and to look for electrophysiological signatures of cognitive impairment. Analyses of hippocampal local field potentials showed that both the power of theta rhythm and its coordination across CA1 and the DG-measured as theta coherence and phase locking-were selectively disrupted. This disruption represented a basal condition of the chronic epileptic hippocampus that was linked to different features of memory impairment. Theta power was more correlated with the spatial than with the temporal component of the task, while measures of theta coordination correlated with the temporal component. We conclude that episodic-like memory, as tested in the what-where-when task, is specifically affected in experimental TLE and that the impairment of hippocampal theta activity might be central to this dysfunction.
While novel influential concepts in neuroscience bring the focus to local activities generated within a few tens of cubic micrometers in the brain, we are still devoid of appropriate tools to record and manipulate pharmacologically neuronal activity at this fine scale. Here we designed, fabricated and encapsulated microprobes for simultaneous depth recording and drug delivery using exclusively the polymer SU-8 as structural material. A tetrode- and linear-like electrode patterning was combined for the first time with single and double fluidic microchannels for independent drug delivery. The device was tested experimentally using the in vivo anesthetized rat preparation. Both probe types successfully recorded detailed spatiotemporal features of local field potentials and single-cell activity at a resolution never attained before with integrated fluidic probes. Drug delivery was achieved with high spatial and temporal precision in a range from tens of nanoliters to a few microliters, as confirmed histologically. These technological advancements will foster a wide range of neural applications aimed at simultaneous monitoring of brain activity and delivery at a very precise micrometer scale.
Cognitive impairment is a major concern in temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). While different experimental models have been used to characterize TLE-related cognitive deficits, little is known on whether a particular deficit is more associated with the underlying brain injuries than with the epileptic condition per se. Here, we look at the relationship between the pattern of brain damage and spatial memory deficits in two chronic models of TLE (lithium-pilocarpine, LIP and kainic acid, KA) from two different rat strains (Wistar and Sprague-Dawley) using the Morris water maze and the elevated plus maze in combination with MRI imaging and post-morten neuronal immunostaining. We found fundamental differences between LIP- and KA-treated epileptic rats regarding spatial memory deficits and anxiety. LIP-treated animals from both strains showed significant impairment in the acquisition and retention of spatial memory, and were unable to learn a cued version of the task. In contrast, KA-treated rats were differently affected. Sprague-Dawley KA-treated rats learned less efficiently than Wistar KA-treated animals, which performed similar to control rats in the acquisition and in a probe trial testing for spatial memory. Different anxiety levels and the extension of brain lesions affecting the hippocampus and the amydgala concur with spatial memory deficits observed in epileptic rats. Hence, our results suggest that hippocampal-dependent spatial memory is not necessarily affected in TLE and that comorbidity between spatial deficits and anxiety is more related with the underlying brain lesions than with the epileptic condition per se.
Fast ripples are a type of transient high-frequency oscillations recorded from the epileptogenic regions of the hippocampus and the temporal cortex of epileptic humans and rodents. These events presumably reflect hypersynchronous bursting of pyramidal cells. However, the oscillatory spectral content of fast ripples varies from 250 to 800 Hz, well above the maximal firing frequency of most hippocampal pyramidal neurons. How such high-frequency oscillations are generated is therefore unclear. Here, we combine computational simulations of fast ripples with multisite and juxtacellular recordings in vivo to examine the underlying mechanisms in the hippocampus of epileptic rats. We show that populations of bursting cells firing individually at 100-400 Hz can create fast ripples according to two main firing regimes: (1) in-phase synchronous firing resulting in "pure" fast ripples characterized by single spectral peaks that reflect single-cell behavior and (2) out-of-phase firing that results in "emergent" fast ripples. Using simulations, we found that fast ripples generated under these two different regimes can be quantitatively separated by their spectral characteristics, and we took advantage of this separability to examine their dynamics in vivo. We found that in-phase firing can reach frequencies up to 300 Hz in the CA1 and up to 400 Hz in the dentate gyrus. The organization of out-of-phase firing is determined by firing delays between cells discharging at low frequencies. The two firing regimes compete dynamically, alternating randomly from one fast ripple event to the next, and they reflect the functional dynamic organization of the different regions of the hippocampus.
The transcription factor Prox1 acts in rodent retinogenesis, at least in promoting cell cycle withdrawal and horizontal cell production. In the mature retina, this protein is detected at the inner nuclear layer of all vertebrate groups. We have made a neurochemical characterisation of Prox1(+) cell types in two different vertebrate groups: mammals and fish. As well as Prox1(+) horizontal cells, we have observed Prox1(+)/PKC-alpha(+) rod bipolar cells in mouse and cone ON and mixed b bipolar cells in goldfish. In mouse, only some CB(+) and CR(+) amacrine cells are Prox1(+) and the TH(+) and CR(+) amacrine cells are Prox1(-). However, in goldfish all CR(+) amacrine cells and TH(+) interplexiform cells are Prox1(+) and in the GCL displaced amacrine cells are also Prox1(+). Besides its expression in different interneuron subpopulations, we demonstrate, for the first time, the presence of Prox1 in the GS(+) and CRALBP(+) Müller cells in the retina of adult mammals and in developing and mature retina of fish. The presence of Prox1 in these cells appears to be related to survival or maintenance of their phenotype. We also demonstrate that in fish, where retinal formation persists into adulthood, Prox1 is expressed in dividing PCNA(+) cells at the peripheral growing zone, in rod progenitors at the inner and outer nuclear layers as well as in early progenitors during a retinal regeneration process after cryo-lesion of the peripheral growing zone. Therefore, Prox1 functions in vertebrate retinogenesis may be more complex than previously expected.
Affective symptoms such as anxiety and depression are frequently observed in patients with epilepsy. The mechanisms of comorbidity of epilepsy and affective disorders, however, remain unclear. Diverse models are traditionally used in epilepsy research, including the status epilepticus (SE) model in rats, which are aimed at generating chronic epileptic animals; however, the implications of different SE models and rat strains in emotional behaviors has not been reported. To address this issue, we examined the emotional sequelae of two SE models of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE)--the lithium-pilocarpine (LIP) model and the kainic acid (KA) model--in two different rat strains (Wistar and Sprague-Dawley), which differ significantly in the pattern and extent of TLE-associated brain lesions. We found differences between LIP- and KA-treated animals in tests for depression-like and anxiety-like behaviors, as well as differences in plasma corticosterone levels. Whereas only LIP-treated rats displayed increased motivation to consume saccharin, both SE models led to reduced motivation for social contact, with LIP-treated animals being particularly affected. Evaluation of behavior in the open field test indicated very low levels of anxiety in LIP-treated rats and a mild decrease in KA-treated rats compared to controls. After exposure to a battery of behavioral tests, plasma corticosterone levels were increased only in LIP-treated animals. This hyperactivity in the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis was highly correlated with performance in the open field test and the social interaction test, suggesting that comorbidity of epilepsy and emotional behaviors might also be related to other factors such as HPA axis function. Our results indicate that altered emotional behaviors are not inherent to the epileptic condition in experimental TLE; instead, they likely reflect alterations in anxiety levels related to model-dependent dysregulation of the HPA axis.
Seizures have profound impact on synaptic function and plasticity. While kainic acid is a popular method to induce seizures and to potentially affect synaptic plasticity, it can also produce physiological-like oscillations and trigger some forms of long-term potentiation (LTP). Here, we examine whether induction of LTP is altered in hippocampal slices prepared from rats with different sensitivity to develop status epilepticus (SE) by systemic injection of kainic acid. Rats were treated with multiple low doses of kainic acid (5 mg/kg; i.p.) to develop SE in a majority of animals (72-85% rats). A group of rats were resistant to develop SE (15-28%) after several accumulated doses. Animals were subsequently tested using chronic recordings and object recognition tasks before brain slices were prepared for histological studies and to examine basic features of hippocampal synaptic function and plasticity, including input/output curves, paired-pulse facilitation and theta-burst induced LTP. Consistent with previous reports in kindling and pilocapine models, LTP was reduced in rats that developed SE after kainic acid injection. These animals exhibited signs of hippocampal sclerosis and developed spontaneous seizures. In contrast, resistant rats did not become epileptic and had no signs of cell loss and mossy fiber sprouting. In slices from resistant rats, theta-burst stimulation induced LTP of higher magnitude when compared with control and epileptic rats. Variations on LTP magnitude correlate with animals performance in a hippocampal-dependent spatial memory task. Our results suggest dissociable long-term effects of treatment with kainic acid on synaptic function and plasticity depending on its epileptogenic efficiency.
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