Adaptive Mossy Cell Circuit Plasticity after Status Epilepticus

Corwin R. Butler, Gary L. Westbrook, Eric Schnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hilar mossy cells regulate network function in the hippocampus through both direct excitation and di-synaptic inhibition of dentate granule cells (DGCs). Substantial mossy cell loss accompanies hippocampal circuit changes in epilepsy. We examined the contribution of surviving mossy cells to network activity in the reorganized dentate gyrus after pilocarpine-induced status epilepticus (SE). To examine functional circuit changes, we optogenetically stimulated mossy cells in acute hippocampal slices from male mice. In control mice, activation of mossy cells produced monosynaptic excitatory and di-synaptic GABAergic currents in DGCs. In pilocarpine-treated mice, mossy cell density and excitation of DGCs were reduced in parallel, with only a minimal reduction in feedforward inhibition, enhancing the inhibition/excitation ratio. Surprisingly, mossy cell-driven excitation of parvalbumin-positive (PV+) basket cells, primary mediators of feed-forward inhibition, was maintained. Our results suggest that mossy cell outputs reorganize following seizures, increasing their net inhibitory effect in the hippocampus.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Hilar mossy cell loss in epilepsy is associated with hippocampal hyperexcitability, potentially as a result of disrupted dentate microcircuit function. We used transgenic mice, translational mouse modeling, viral vectors, and optogenetics to selectively examine functional changes to mossy cell outputs following status epilepticus (SE). Interestingly, the outputs of surviving mossy cells exhibited adaptive plasticity onto target parvalbumin-positive (PV+) interneurons, resulting in a relative increase in their inhibitory control of dentate granule cells (DGCs). Our findings suggest that residual mossy cell outputs can reorganize in a homeostatic manner, which may provide clues for therapeutic targeting of this microcircuit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3025-3036
Number of pages12
JournalThe Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience
Issue number14
StatePublished - Apr 6 2022


  • epilepsy
  • mossy cells
  • optogenetics
  • plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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