Echinacoside, an active constituent of Herba Cistanche, suppresses epileptiform activity in hippocampal CA3 pyramidal neurons
Echinacoside, an active compound in the herb Herba Cistanche, has been reported to inhibit glutamate release. In this study, we investigated the effects of echinacoside on spontaneous excitatory synaptic transmission changes induced by 4-aminopyridine (4-AP), by using the in vitro rat hippocampal slice technique and whole-cell patch clamp recordings from CA3 pyramidal neurons. Perfusion with echinacoside significantly suppressed the 4-AP-induced epileptiform activity in a concentration-dependent manner. Echinacoside reduced 4-AP-induced increase in frequency of spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic currents (sEPSCs) but it did not affect the amplitude of sEPSCs or glutamate-activated currents, implicating a presynaptic mechanism of action. Echinacoside also potently blocked sustained repetitive firing, which is a basic mechanism of antiepileptic drugs. These results suggest that echinacoside exerts an antiepileptic effect on hippocampal CA3 pyramidal neurons by simultaneously decreasing glutamate release and blocking abnormal firing synchronization. Accordingly, our study provides experimental evidence that echinacoside may represent an effective pharmacological agent for treating epilepsy.
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