Reduced neurosteroid potentiation of GABAA receptors in epilepsy and depolarized hippocampal neurons

Suchitra Joshi, William H. Roden, Jaideep Kapur, Laura A. Jansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: Neurosteroids regulate neuronal excitability by potentiating γ-aminobutyric acid type-A receptors (GABARs). In animal models of temporal lobe epilepsy, the neurosteroid sensitivity of GABARs is diminished and GABAR subunit composition is altered. We tested whether similar changes occur in patients with epilepsy and if depolarization-induced increases in neuronal activity can replicate this effect. Methods: We determined GABAR α4 subunit expression in cortical tissue resected from pediatric epilepsy patients. Modulation of human GABARs by allopregnanolone and Ro15-4513 was measured in Xenopus oocytes using whole-cell patch clamp. To extend the findings obtained using tissue from epilepsy patients, we evaluated GABAR expression and modulation by allopregnanolone and Ro15-4513 in cultured rat hippocampal neurons exposed to high extracellular potassium (HK) to increase neuronal activity. Results: Expression of α4 subunits was increased in pediatric cortical epilepsy specimens encompassing multiple pathologies. The potentiation of GABA-evoked currents by the neurosteroid allopregnanolone was decreased in Xenopus oocytes expressing GABARs isolated from epilepsy patients. Furthermore, receptors isolated from epilepsy but not control tissue were sensitive to potentiation by Ro15-4513, indicating higher expression of α4βxγ2 subunit-containing receptors. Correspondingly, increasing the activity of cultured rat hippocampal neurons reduced allopregnanolone potentiation of miniature inhibitory postsynaptic currents (mIPSCs), increased modulation of tonic GABAR current by Ro15-4513, upregulated the surface expression of α4 and γ2 subunits, and increased the colocalization of α4 and γ2 subunit immunoreactivity. Interpretation: These findings suggest that seizure activity-induced upregulation of α4βxγ2 subunit-containing GABARs could affect the anticonvulsant actions of neurosteroids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-542
Number of pages16
JournalAnnals of Clinical and Translational Neurology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


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