Ron Stoop Lab    

2. In vitro and in vivo electrophysiological characterization of neuronal recruitment in the basolateral amygdala of rodents and human subjects following fear learning and epileptogenesis.

Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is the most common form of epilepsy and remains until today resistant to long-term pharmacological treatment. Moreover, a large number of patients that suffer from this epilepsy often also exhibit signs of anxiety disorders. Symptoms of these manifest themselves in between crises and can be more hindering then the crises themselves. The two structures that are mostly affected by TLE are the hippocampus and the amygdala. The amygdala is also important for attributing emotional values to our sensory stimuli. Our laboratory is interested in assigning which role the amygdala plays in emotional disorders, and more precisely anxiety and fear disorders.
More specifically, we are interested to examine which changes, on the synaptic level, can be found in the amygdala following epileptic activity. We think these changes are at the basis of the development of anxiety disorders in patients that suffer from TLE. To this purpose, we have developed a horizontal slice preparation of the rat brain that contain amygdala and hippocampus and interconnections between these structures. In these slices we can induce epileptiform activity by adding the GABA(A) receptor antagonist bicuculline.
To address the above questions we make use of different electrophysiological techniques such as extracellular, intracellular and patch-clamp recordings in slices of amygdala and hippocampus, followed by immunohistochemical measurements. With these techniques it is possible to study the speed and extent of propagation of epileptiform bursting. Furthermore we are currently developing an in vivo model in which local, short term application of bicuculline in the amygdala of rodents leads to long-term enhancement of anxiety and fear in rodent. To this purpose we maintain a close collaboration with the department of neurosurgery in the Lausanne University Hospital, through which we regularly participate in meetings and seminars, but also evaluations and operations on epileptic patients.

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C-fos labeling of different regions in the horizontal slice preparation after epileptiform bursting. Bursts are shown on the right following extracellular recording.