A robust increase in the functional expression of the neuronal K–Cl cotransporter KCC2 during CNS development is necessary for the emergence of hyperpolarizing ionotropic GABAergic transmission. BDNF-TrkB signaling has been implicated in the developmental up-regulation of KCC2 and, in mature animals, in fast activity-dependent down-regulation of KCC2 function following seizures and trauma. In contrast to the decrease in KCC2 expression observed in the adult hippocampus following trauma, seizures in the neonate trigger a TrkB-dependent up-regulation of neuronal Cl− extrusion capacity associated with enhanced surface expression of KCC2. Here, we show that this effect is transient, and impaired in the hippocampus of Bdnf−/− mice. Notably, however, a complete absence of BDNF does not compromise the increase in KCC2 protein or K-Cl transport functionality during neuronal development. Furthermore, we present data indicating that the functional up-regulation of KCC2 by neonatal seizures is temporally limited by calpain activity.
This article is part of the Special Issue entitled ‘GABAergic Signaling in Health and Disease’.