Mitochondrial calcium ion and membrane potential transients follow the pattern of epileptiform discharges in hippocampal slice cultures

Richard Kovács, Julianna Kardos, Uwe Heinemann, Oliver Kann

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71 Citations (Scopus)


Emerging evidence suggests that mitochondrial dysfunction contributes to the pathophysiology of epilepsy. Recurrent mitochondrial Ca2+ ion load during seizures might act on mitochondrial membrane potential (Δψm) and proton motive force. By using electrophysiology and confocal laser-scanning microscopy, we investigated the effects of epileptiform activity, as induced by low-Mg2+ ion perfusion in hippocampal slice cultures, on changes in Δψm and in mitochondrial Ca2+ ion concentration ([Ca2+]m). The mitochondrial compartment was identified by monitoring Δψm in the soma and dendrites of patched CA3 pyramidal cells using the mitochondria-specific voltage-sensitive dye rhodamine-123 (Rh-123). Interictal activity was accompanied by localized mitochondrial depolarization that was restricted to a few mitochondria in small dendrites. In contrast, robust Rh-123 release into the cytosol was observed during seizure-like events (SLEs), indicating simultaneous depolarization of mitochondria. This was critically dependent on Ca2+ ion uptake and extrusion, because inhibition of the mitochondrial Ca2+ ion uniporter by Ru360 and the mitochondrial Na+/Ca2+ ion exchanger by 7-chloro-5-(2-chlorophenyl)-1,5-dihydro-4,1-benzothiazepin-2(3H)-one but not the inhibitor of mitochondrial permeability transition pore, cyclosporin A, decreased the SLE-associated mitochondrial depolarization. The Ca2+ ion dependence of simultaneous mitochondrial depolarization suggested enhanced Ca2+ ion cycling across mitochondrial membranes during epileptiform activity. Indeed, [Ca2+]m fluctuated during interictal activity in single dendrites, and these fluctuations spread over the entire mitochondrial compartment during SLEs, as revealed using mitochondria-specific dyes (rhod-2 and rhod-ff) and spatial frequency-based image analysis. These findings strengthen the hypothesis that epileptic activity results in Ca 2+ ion-dependent changes in mitochondrial function that might contribute to the neuronal injury during epilepsy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4260-4269
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - Apr 27 2005


  • Calcium
  • Epilepsy
  • Hippocampus
  • Imaging
  • Mitochondria
  • Patch clamp

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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