Oxidative stress induced by cumene hydroperoxide produces synaptic depression and transient hyperexcitability in rat primary motor cortex neurons

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Pyramidal neurons of the motor cortex are selectively degenerated in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). The mechanisms underlying neuronal death in ALS are not well established. In the absence of useful biomarkers, the early increased neuronal excitability seems to be the unique characteristic of ALS. Lipid peroxidation caused by oxidative stress has been postulated as one of the possible mechanisms involved in degeneration motor cortex pyramidal neurons. This paper examines the effect of lipid peroxidation on layer V pyramidal neurons induced by cumene hydroperoxide (CH) in brain slices from wild type rats. CH induces a synaptic depression of pyramidal neurons in a time dependent manner, already observable on GABAergic synaptic transmission after 5 min application of the drug. Altogether, our whole-cell patch-clamp recording data suggest that the functional changes induced by CH upon pyramidal neurons are due to pre- and postsynaptic mechanisms. CH did not alter mEPSCs or mIPSCs, but decreased the frequency, amplitude, and decay rate of spontaneous EPSCs and IPSCs. These effects may be explained by a presynaptic mechanism causing a decrease in action potential-dependent neurotransmitter release. Additionally, CH induced a postsynaptic inward current that underlies a membrane depolarization. Depressing the input flow from the inhibitory premotor interneurons causes a transient hyperexcitability (higher resistance and lower rheobase) in pyramidal neurons of the motor cortex by presumably altering a tonic inhibitory current. These findings, which resemble relevant cortical pathophysiology of ALS, point to oxidative stress, presumably by lipid peroxidation, as an important contributor to the causes underlying this disease.

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