Reproductive endocrine disorders are prominent comorbidities of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) in both men and women. The neural mechanisms underlying these comorbidities remain unclear, but hypothalamic gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons may be involved. Here, we report the first direct demonstrations of aberrant GnRH neuron function in an animal model of epilepsy. Recordings of GnRH neuron firing and excitability were made in acute mouse brain slices prepared two months after intrahippocampal injection of kainate (KA) or control saline, a well-established TLE model in which most females develop comorbid estrous cycle disruption. GnRH neurons from control females showed elevated firing and excitability on estrus compared with diestrus. By contrast, cells from KA-injected females that developed prolonged, disrupted estrous cycles (KA-long) showed the reverse pattern. Firing rates of cells from KA-injected females that maintained regular cycles (KA-regular) were not different from controls on diestrus, but were reduced on estrus. In KA-injected males, only GnRH neurons in the medial septum displayed elevated firing. In contrast to the diestrus versus estrus and sex-specific changes in firing, GnRH neuron intrinsic excitability was elevated in all KA-injected groups, indicating a role for afferent synaptic and neuromodulatory inputs in shaping overall changes in firing activity. Furthermore, KA-injected females showed cycle-stage-specific changes in circulating sex steroids on diestrus and estrus that also differed between KA-long and KA-regular groups. Together, these findings reveal that the effects of epilepsy on the neural control of reproduction are dynamic across the estrous cycle, distinct in association with comorbid estrous cycle disruption severity, and sex-specific.
- Patch clamp electrophysiology
- Temporal lobe epilepsy
ASJC Scopus subject areas