Localized chemogenetic silencing of inhibitory neurons: a novel mouse model of focal cortical epileptic activity

Adi Miriam Goldenberg, Sarah Schmidt, Rea Mitelman, Dana Rubi Levy, Matthias Prigge, Yonatan Katz, Ofer Yizhar, Heinz Beck, Ilan Lampl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Focal cortical epilepsies are frequently refractory to available anticonvulsant drug therapies. One key factor contributing to this state is the limited availability of animal models that allow to reliably study focal cortical seizures and how they recruit surrounding brain areas in vivo. In this study, we selectively expressed the inhibitory chemogenetic receptor, hM4D, in GABAergic neurons in focal cortical areas using viral gene transfer. GABAergic silencing using Clozapine-N-Oxide (CNO) demonstrated reliable induction of local epileptiform events in the electroencephalogram signal of awake freely moving mice. Anesthetized mice experiments showed consistent induction of focal epileptiform-events in both the barrel cortex (BC) and the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), accompanied by high-frequency oscillations, a known characteristic of human seizures. Epileptiform-events showed propagation indication with favored propagation pathways: from the BC on 1 hemisphere to its counterpart and from the BC to the mPFC, but not vice-versa. Lastly, sensory whisker-pad stimulation evoked BC epileptiform events post-CNO, highlighting the potential use of this model in studying sensory-evoked seizures. Combined, our results show that targeted chemogenetic inhibition of GABAergic neurons using hM4D can serve as a novel, versatile, and reliable model of focal cortical epileptic activity suitable for systematically studying cortical ictogenesis in different cortical areas.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberbhac245
Pages (from-to)2838-2856
Number of pages19
JournalCerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. 1991)
Issue number6
StatePublished - 4 Jul 2022


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