Scientific article
Open access

Altered expression of alpha3-containing GABAA receptors in the neocortex of patients with focal epilepsy

Published inBrain, vol. 129, no. 12, p. 3277-3289
Publication date2006-12
First online date2006-10-17

Impaired transmission in GABAergic circuits is thought to contribute to the pathogenesis of epilepsy. Although it is well established that major reorganization of GABA(A) receptor subtypes occurs in the hippocampus of patients with medically refractory temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), it is unclear whether this disorder is also associated with alterations in GABA(A) receptor subtypes in the neocortex. Here we have investigated immunohistochemically the subunit composition and neocortical distribution of three major GABA(A) receptor subtypes using antibodies specifically recognizing the subunits alpha1, alpha2, alpha3, beta2/3 and gamma2. Cortical tissue was obtained at surgery from patients with TLE and hippocampal sclerosis (HS; n = 9), TLE associated with neocortical lesions (non-HS; n = 12) and frontal lobe epilepsy (FLE; n = 5), with post-mortem samples serving as controls (n = 4). A distinct laminar and neuronal expression pattern of the alpha-subunit variants was found across the neocortical regions examined in the temporal and frontal lobes in both control and patient tissue samples. In the five patients with FLE, GABA(A) receptor subunit staining was unchanged as compared to controls. In patients with TLE we observed a marked decrease in alpha3-subunit staining in the superficial neocortical layers (I-III), but no change in the deep layers (V and VI) or in the expression pattern of the alpha1 and alpha2-subunits. Reduced expression in alpha3-containing GABA(A) receptors was detected in six out of nine patients of the HS group and four out of twelve patients of the non-HS group. Histopathological changes were present in eight out of the ten patients with decreased alpha3-subunit staining. The selective reduction in alpha3-containing GABA(A) receptors was confirmed using semiquantitative measurements of optical density (OD). The specific changes unique to alpha3-subunit expression in the superficial neocortical layers of patients with TLE suggest that this subtype is of particular significance in the reorganization of cortical GABAergic systems in focal epilepsy.

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Epilepsies, Partial / metabolism
  • Epilepsies, Partial / pathology
  • Epilepsy, Frontal Lobe / metabolism
  • Epilepsy, Frontal Lobe / pathology
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / metabolism
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / pathology
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neocortex / chemistry
  • Neocortex / pathology
  • Neurons / chemistry
  • Receptors, GABA-A / analysis
  • Sclerosis
Citation (ISO format)
LOUP, Fabienne et al. Altered expression of alpha3-containing GABA<sub>A</sub> receptors in the neocortex of patients with focal epilepsy. In: Brain, 2006, vol. 129, n° 12, p. 3277–3289. doi: 10.1093/brain/awl287
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0006-8950

Technical informations

Creation11/17/2021 2:47:00 PM
First validation11/17/2021 2:47:00 PM
Update time03/16/2023 2:37:45 AM
Status update03/16/2023 2:37:44 AM
Last indexation02/01/2024 7:44:45 AM
All rights reserved by Archive ouverte UNIGE and the University of GenevaunigeBlack