Stress and corticosteroid modulation of seizures and synaptic inhibition in the hippocampus

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The role of stress hormones in the initiation of epileptic seizures has been studied extensively in the past decade, with conflicting observations, from suppression to exacerbation of spontaneous seizures. We have now studied the effects of an acute stress on reactivity of juvenile rats to kainic acid (KA), which produces epileptic seizures. With a short (30 s) stress-KA delay, stress exacerbated epilepsy via activation of mineralocorticosterone receptors (MR). With a long (60 min) stress-KA delay, seizures were suppressed through activation of a glucocorticosterone receptor (GR). In a parallel study with CA1 pyramidal neurons in acute hippocampal slices, activation of MRs reduced the frequency of mIPSCs, whereas activation of GRs produced a slow onset, 2.5 fold increase in amplitudes of mIPSCs. GR effects were not mediated by protein synthesis, but did require activation of some protein kinases. These experiments suggest that stress can either facilitate or suppress seizures, in a time and receptor dependent manner.


▸ Stress differently modulates seizures according to the time delay of seizure onset. ▸ Stress worsens seizure through activation of MRs and suppresses seizure through GRs. ▸ MRs reduce frequency of mIPSCs, while GRs enhance mIPSCs amplitudes. ▸ GR effects do not require protein synthesis, but do require protein kinase C.

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