Binge ethanol exposure delays development of GABAergic miniature postsynaptic currents in septal neurons. Academic Article uri icon


  • Whole cell GABA(A)R currents of septal neurons isolated from rat pups increase rapidly during the first weeks of life when inhibitory synapses are forming. Early postnatal binge ethanol intubation on days 4-9 delays this maturational up-regulation in septal neurons isolated several days later suggesting inhibitory synapse formation could be disrupted [S.-H. Hsiao, J.L. Acevedo, D.W. DuBois, K.R. Smith, J.R. West, G.D. Frye, Early postnatal ethanol intubation blunts GABA(A) receptor upregulation and modifies 3alpha-hydroxy-5alpha-pregnan-20-one sensitivity in rat MS/DB neurons, Brain Res. Dev. Brain Res. 130 (2001) 25-40]. Surprisingly, whole cell GABA(A)R function does not increase rapidly when septal neurons are grown for the same period in vitro and is not blunted by comparable ethanol exposure of the cultures [S.-H. Hsiao, D.W. DuBois, R.C. Miranda, G.D. Frye, Critically timed ethanol exposure reduces GABA(A)R function on septal neurons developing in vivo but not in vitro, Brain Res Dev. Brain Res. 1008 (2004) 69-80]. Because GABAergic miniature postsynaptic currents (mPSCs) show parallel patterns of maturation whether cortical neurons are growing in vivo or in vitro [D.D. Dunning, C.L. Hoover, I. Soltesz, M.A. Smith, D.K. ODowd, GABA(A) receptor-mediated miniature postsynaptic currents and alpha-subunit expression in developing cortical neurons, J. Neurophysiol. 82 (1999) 3286-3297], we examined the impact of binge ethanol exposure on synaptic receptors activated by these currents in septal cultures. Binge ethanol treatment of embryonic septal neurons over 6-11 days in vitro (DIV) slightly reduced GABA(A)R-mediated mPSC amplitude and frequency, but also substantially slowed decay kinetics when mPSCs were recorded later on DIV 13-18. Decreased frequency and slowed mPSC decay kinetics after ethanol were consistent with parameters measured in immature neurons. Untreated septal neurons exhibited decreased mPSC amplitude and frequency with acute 30-100 mM ethanol, without changing decay kinetics suggesting a direct inhibition of postsynaptic receptors. Sustained inhibition of GABA(A)Rs with 100 microM picrotoxin on DIV 6-11 decreased mPSC amplitude and frequency and slowed decay kinetics similar to binge ethanol exposure. These results suggest that binge ethanol exposure delays mPSC maturation by interfering with trophic postsynaptic GABA(A)R signaling during the early development of septal neurons.

published proceedings

  • Brain Res Dev Brain Res

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • DuBois, D. W., Parrish, A. R., Trzeciakowski, J. P., & Frye, G. D.

citation count

  • 13

complete list of authors

  • DuBois, Dustin W||Parrish, Alan R||Trzeciakowski, Jerome P||Frye, Gerald D

publication date

  • January 2004