Human stem cell‐derived gabaergic interneurons establish efferent synapses onto host neurons in rat epileptic hippocampus and inhibit spontaneous recurrent seizures

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Abstract

Epilepsy is a complex disorder affecting the central nervous system and is characterised by spontaneously recurring seizures (SRSs). Epileptic patients undergo symptomatic pharmacolog-ical treatments, however, in 30% of cases, they are ineffective, mostly in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy. Therefore, there is a need for developing novel treatment strategies. Transplantation of cells releasing γ‐aminobutyric acid (GABA) could be used to counteract the imbalance between ex-citation and inhibition within epileptic neuronal networks. We generated GABAergic interneuron precursors from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and grafted them in the hippocampi of rats developing chronic SRSs after kainic acid‐induced status epilepticus. Using whole‐cell patch‐clamp recordings, we characterised the maturation of the grafted cells into functional GABAergic inter-neurons in the host brain, and we confirmed the presence of functional inhibitory synaptic connections from grafted cells onto the host neurons. Moreover, optogenetic stimulation of grafted hESC-derived interneurons reduced the rate of epileptiform discharges in vitro. We also observed decreased SRS frequency and total time spent in SRSs in these animals in vivo as compared to non-grafted controls. These data represent a proof‐of‐concept that hESC‐derived GABAergic neurons can exert a therapeutic effect on epileptic animals presumably through establishing inhibitory synapses with host neurons.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13243
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Volume22
Issue number24
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec 1

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Neurosciences

Keywords

  • Cell integration
  • Epilepsy
  • GABA
  • Human embryonic stem cells
  • Interneurons
  • Optogenetics
  • Synaptic integration

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