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Effects of a reduced efficacy of the KCC2 co-transporter in temporal lobe epilepsy: single neuron and network study

Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders. Seizures in about 40% of patients with temporal lobe epilepsies are pharmaco-resistant [1]. In surgically removed hippocampal tissue from these patients, the KCC2 cotransporter is absent or non-functional in about 20 % of subicular pyramidal cells [2]. KCC2 normally assures the maintenance of low intra-neuronal chloride levels [3] and also regulates potassium levels [4]. Chloride concentration changes in the remaining pyramidal cells due to intensive GABAergic input during seizures could reverse the effects of GABA currents from inhibitory to excitatory [5, 6]. Such changes may shift a pyramidal cell into a periodic bursting regime associated with ictal discharges. Using a detailed biophysical model of a single cell incorporating these mechanisms of ionic homeostasis and a neural network model, we show that decreasing the activity of KCC2 pump leads to repetitive seizure-like firing in the pathologic network due to increased extracellular potassium and intracellular chloride (Fig. 1). This model provides insights into how a dysregulation of pyramidal cell chloride homeostasis due to reduced levels of the KCC2 cotransporter may lead to seizures in the epileptic human subiculum.

Figure 1
figure 1

A raster plot of pyramidal cell population firing; B raster plot of interneuron firing; C spatial distribution of extracellular potassium; D intracellular chloride distribution.


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This work has been supported by the following grants: ANR-10-LABX-0087 IEC, ANR-10-IDEX-0001-02 PSL, ERC-322721, FRM FDT20140930942. Especially we would like to thank Giri Krishnan for useful discussions.

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Correspondence to Anatoly Buchin.

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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Buchin, A., Huberfeld, G., Miles, R. et al. Effects of a reduced efficacy of the KCC2 co-transporter in temporal lobe epilepsy: single neuron and network study. BMC Neurosci 16 (Suppl 1), P5 (2015).

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