Perimenstrual-like hormonal regulation of extrasynaptic -containing GABAA receptors mediating tonic inhibition and neurosteroid sensitivity.
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Neurosteroids are endogenous regulators of neuronal excitability and seizure susceptibility. Neurosteroids, such as allopregnanolone (AP; 3-hydroxy-5-pregnan-20-one), exhibit enhanced anticonvulsant activity in perimenstrual catamenial epilepsy, a neuroendocrine condition in which seizures are clustered around the menstrual period associated with neurosteroid withdrawal (NSW). However, the molecular mechanisms underlying such enhanced neurosteroid sensitivity remain unclear. Neurosteroids are allosteric modulators of both synaptic (2-containing) and extrasynaptic (-containing) GABAA receptors, but they display greater sensitivity toward -subunit receptors in dentate gyrus granule cells (DGGCs). Here we report a novel plasticity of extrasynaptic -containing GABAA receptors in the dentate gyrus in a mouse perimenstrual-like model of NSW. In molecular and immunofluorescence studies, a significant increase occurred in subunits, but not 1, 2, 2, and 2 subunits, in the dentate gyrus of NSW mice. Electrophysiological studies confirmed enhanced sensitivity to AP potentiation of GABA-gated currents in DGGCs, but not in CA1 pyramidal cells, in NSW animals. AP produced a greater potentiation of tonic currents in DGGCs of NSW animals, and such enhanced AP sensitivity was not evident in -subunit knock-out mice subjected to a similar withdrawal paradigm. In behavioral studies, mice undergoing NSW exhibited enhanced seizure susceptibility to hippocampus kindling. AP has enhanced anticonvulsant effects in fully kindled wild-type mice, but not -subunit knock-out mice, undergoing NSW-induced seizures, confirming -linked neurosteroid sensitivity. These results indicate that perimenstrual NSW is associated with striking upregulation of extrasynaptic, -containing GABAA receptors that mediate tonic inhibition and neurosteroid sensitivity in the dentate gyrus. These findings may represent a molecular rationale for neurosteroid therapy of catamenial epilepsy.