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Mossy fibre sprouting (MFS) is a phenomenon observed in the epileptic hippocampus. We have studied MFS, in 7, 14 and 21 day in vitro (DIV) organotypic slice cultures, or in slice cultures treated with pilocarpine (0.5 mM) or pilocarpine and atropine (0.1 mM or 0.5 mM) for 48-72 h at 5 DIV and tested at 21 DIV. Acute application of pilocarpine directly activated hilar neurons and elicited epileptic-like discharges in CA3 pyramids and mossy cells of 5-8 DIV cultures, without causing substantial cell death, as assessed by lactate dehydrogenase measurements. Timm staining revealed increases in MFS in chronic pilocarpine-treated cultures, which was prevented by prior application of atropine. Extracellular synaptic responses were recorded in the granule cell layer and elicited by antidromic mossy fibre stimulation. The GABA(A) antagonist 6-imino-3-(4-methoxyphenyl)-1(6H)-pyridazinebutanoic acid (1 microM) induced a greater increase in the coastline bursting index in pilocarpine-treated cultures than in 21 DIV controls. However, there was no significant increase in the frequency of spontaneous or miniature synaptic events recorded in granule cells from pilocarpine-treated cultures. Granule cells were filled with biocytin and morphometric analysis revealed that the length of axon collaterals in the granule and molecular layer was longer in pilocarpine-treated cultures than in 21 DIV controls. Dual recordings between granule cells and between granule and hilar neurons showed that pilocarpine-treated cultures had a larger proportion of monosynaptic and polysynaptic connections. The group II metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR) agonist LY354740 (0.5 microM) suppressed excitatory but not inhibitory monosynaptic currents. LY354740 also inhibited antidromically evoked action currents in granule cells from pilocarpine- and to a lesser extent in pilocarpine and atropine-treated cultures, suggesting that group II mGluRs can reside along the axon and suppress action potential invasion. We provide direct evidence for the development of functional MFS and suggest a novel, axonal mechanism by which presynaptic group II mGluRs can inhibit selected synapses.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





303 - 320


Animals, Cell Death, Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials, Hippocampus, In Vitro Techniques, Male, Mossy Fibers, Hippocampal, Pilocarpine, Presynaptic Terminals, Rats, Rats, Sprague-Dawley, Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate