Status epilepticus (SE) is a common neurological emergency for which new treatments are needed. In vitro studies suggest a novel approach to controlling seizures in SE: acute inhibition of estrogen synthesis in the brain. Here, we show in rats that systemic administration of an aromatase (estrogen synthase) inhibitor after seizure onset strongly suppresses both electrographic and behavioral seizures induced by kainic acid (KA). We found that KA-induced SE stimulates synthesis of estradiol (E2) in the hippocampus, a brain region commonly involved in seizures and where E2 is known to acutely promote neural activity. Hippocampal E2 levels were higher in rats experiencing more severe seizures. Consistent with a seizure-promoting effect of hippocampal estrogen synthesis, intra-hippocampal aromatase inhibition also suppressed seizures. These results reveal neurosteroid estrogen synthesis as a previously unknown factor in the escalation of seizures and suggest that acute administration of aromatase inhibitors may be an effective treatment for SE.
Animal experimentation: All animal procedures were performed in accordance with the National Institutes of Health Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals and were approved by the Northwestern University Animal Care and Use Committee. Animal Study Protocol IS00000520 (expires 6/26/2017)Animal Welfare Assurance A3283-01
- Gary L Westbrook, Vollum Institute, United States
© 2016, Sato & Woolley
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Basal forebrain cholinergic neurons modulate how organisms process and respond to environmental stimuli through impacts on arousal, attention, and memory. It is unknown, however, whether basal forebrain cholinergic neurons are directly involved in conditioned behavior, independent of secondary roles in the processing of external stimuli. Using fluorescent imaging, we found that cholinergic neurons are active during behavioral responding for a reward – even prior to reward delivery and in the absence of discrete stimuli. Photostimulation of basal forebrain cholinergic neurons, or their terminals in the basolateral amygdala (BLA), selectively promoted conditioned responding (licking), but not unconditioned behavior nor innate motor outputs. In vivo electrophysiological recordings during cholinergic photostimulation revealed reward-contingency-dependent suppression of BLA neural activity, but not prefrontal cortex. Finally, ex vivo experiments demonstrated that photostimulation of cholinergic terminals suppressed BLA projection neuron activity via monosynaptic muscarinic receptor signaling, while also facilitating firing in BLA GABAergic interneurons. Taken together, we show that the neural and behavioral effects of basal forebrain cholinergic activation are modulated by reward contingency in a target-specific manner.