Enduring Effects of Early Life Stress on Firing Patterns of Hippocampal and Thalamocortical Neurons in Rats: Implications for Limbic Epilepsy

Idrish Ali, Patrick O'Brien, Gaurav Kumar, Thomas Zheng, Nigel C. Jones, Didier Pinault, Chris French, Margaret J. Morris, Michael R. Salzberg, Terence J. O'Brien

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Early life stress results in an enduring vulnerability to kindling-induced epileptogenesis in rats, but the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. Recent studies indicate the involvement of thalamocortical neuronal circuits in the progression of kindling epileptogenesis. Therefore, we sought to determine in vivo the effects of early life stress and amygdala kindling on the firing pattern of hippocampus as well as thalamic and cortical neurons. Eight week old male Wistar rats, previously exposed to maternal separation (MS) early life stress or early handling (EH), underwent amygdala kindling (or sham kindling). Once fully kindled, in vivo juxtacellular recordings in hippocampal, thalamic and cortical regions were performed under neuroleptic analgesia. In the thalamic reticular nucleus cells both kindling and MS independently lowered firing frequency and enhanced burst firing. Further, burst firing in the thalamic reticular nucleus was significantly increased in kindled MS rats compared to kindled EH rats (p<0.05). In addition, MS enhanced burst firing of hippocampal pyramidal neurons. Following a stimulation-induced seizure, somatosensory cortical neurons exhibited a more pronounced increase in burst firing in MS rats than in EH rats. These data demonstrate changes in firing patterns in thalamocortical and hippocampal regions resulting from both MS and amygdala kindling, which may reflect cellular changes underlying the enhanced vulnerability to kindling in rats that have been exposed to early life stress.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere66962
Number of pages12
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2013

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