Electroconvulsive seizures in rats and fractionation of their hippocampi to examine seizure-induced changes in postsynaptic density proteins

Sung Soo Jang, Han Gil Jeong, Hee Jung Chung

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Electroconvulsive seizure (ECS) is an experimental animal model of electroconvulsive therapy, the most effective treatment for severe depression. ECS induces generalized tonic-clonic seizures with low mortality and neuronal death and is a widely-used model to screen anti-epileptic drugs. Here, we describe an ECS induction method in which a brief 55-mA current is delivered for 0.5 s to male rats 200-250 g in weight via ear-clip electrodes. Such bilateral stimulation produced stage 4-5 clonic seizures that lasted about 10 s. After the cessation of acute or chronic ECS, most rats recovered to be behaviorally indistinguishable from sham "no seizure" rats. Because ECS globally elevates brain activity, it has also been used to examine activity-dependent alterations of synaptic proteins and their effects on synaptic strength using multiple methods. In particular, subcellular fractionation of the postsynaptic density (PSD) in combination with Western blotting allows for the quantitative determination of the abundance of synaptic proteins at this specialized synaptic structure. In contrast to a previous fractionation method that requires large amount of rodent brains, we describe here a small-scale fractionation method to isolate the PSD from the hippocampi of a single rat, without sucrose gradient centrifugation. Using this method, we show that the isolated PSD fraction contains postsynaptic membrane proteins, including PSD95, GluN2B, and GluA2. Presynaptic marker synaptophysin and soluble cytoplasmic protein α-tubulin were excluded from the PSD fraction, demonstrating successful PSD isolation. Furthermore, chronic ECS decreased GluN2B expression in the PSD, indicating that our small-scale PSD fractionation method can be applied to detect the changes in hippocampal PSD proteins from a single rat after genetic, pharmacological, or mechanical treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere56016
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number126
StatePublished - Aug 2017


  • Electroconvulsive seizure
  • Hippocampus
  • Issue 126
  • NMDA receptor
  • Neuroscience
  • Postsynaptic density
  • Subcellular fractionation
  • Western blotting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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