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Institute of Physiology and Pathophysiology

Research Areas

Fast Network Oscillations


Rhythmic activity is a key functional feature of the brain, as evident from the well-known EEG-rhythms. Meanwhile, many neuroscientists agree that such network oscillations are «meaningful» and provide an important background for temporal coding of information. In our group we focus on one type of network oscillations in the rodent hippocampus, namely «ripples» at ~200 Hz as originally described by John O´Keefe, G. Buszáki and others. We want to elucidate the precise mechanisms by which neurons are entrained to fire at high precision within these short (5 ms) cycles. Moreover, we would like to find out why certain neurons participate in this network while others do not.

Function of GABAergic Synapses

The complex organisation of central synapses offers multiple mechanisms for regulation and modulation of synaptic strength. We focus on inhibitory synapses in the mammalian CNS which use GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) as transmitter. The availability of GABA is regulated by its synthesis, degradation and after release-uptake. In situations of over-excitability, the GABA-synthetizing enzyme GAD is up-regulated while a decrease of neuronal activity leads to a down-regulation of GAD. Thus, cellular GABA content seems to be an activity-dependent, variable parameter. We propose that the presynaptic GABA metabolism is a true and autonomous mechanism of synaptic plasticity. We are presently testing this hypothesis using various electrophysiological, histological and biochemical techniques.

Synaptic Physiology and Pharmacology of Epilepsy


Epilepsy is characterized by a chronic state of recurrent pathological hypersynchronous electrical activity in the brain or parts of the brain. A very simple pathophysiologcal concept could ascribe epilepsy to a disturbed balance between excitation and inhibition in the affected circuits. Certainly, this idea is a gross over-simplification. Nevertheless, some of the most efficient anticonvulsant drugs act by strengthening synaptic inhibition. We are interested in the mechanisms of action of such drugs at the synaptic, cellular and network level. Moreover, we search for changes in synaptic innervation of hippocampal neurons in models of temporal lobe epilepsy. Such efforts should help to clarify why epileptic seizures alter the hippocampal circuitry in a way which promotes further epileptogenesis, contributing to the chronic (and often progressive) nature of this frequent disease.


Recent Publications

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High-fat diet suppresses the positive effect of creatine supplementation on skeletal muscle function by reducing protein expression of IGF-PI3K-AKT-mTOR pathway. PLoS One. 2018 Oct 4;13(10):e0199728. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0199728. eCollection 2018.

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Alcohol reduces muscle fatigue through atomistic interactions with nicotinic receptors. Commun Biol. 2018 Oct 3;1:159. doi: 10.1038/s42003-018-0157-9. eCollection 2018.

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Possible neurotoxicity of the anesthetic propofol: evidence for the inhibition of complex II of the respiratory chain in area CA3 of rat hippocampal slices. Arch Toxicol. 2018 Oct;92(10):3191-3205. doi: 10.1007/s00204-018-2295-8. Epub 2018 Aug 24.

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Endothelial progenitor cells accelerate endothelial regeneration in an in vitro model of Shigatoxin-2a-induced injury via soluble growth factors. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2018 Oct 1;315(4):F861-F869. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00633.2017. Epub 2018 Mar 7.

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Strategy for marker-based differentiation of pro- and anti-inflammatory macrophages using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry imaging. Analyst. 2018 Sep 10;143(18):4273-4282. doi: 10.1039/c8an00659h. Epub 2018 Jul 20.

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Early appearance and spread of fast ripples in the hippocampus in a model of cortical traumatic brain injury. J Neurosci. 2018 Sep 6. pii: 3507-17. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3507-17.2018. [Epub ahead of print]

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Recent advances in hippocampal structure and function. Cell Tissue Res. 2018 Sep;373(3):521-523. doi: 10.1007/s00441-018-2913-z. Epub 2018 Aug 20. doi: 10.1007/s00441-018-2913-z. Editorial. No abstract available.

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Electrical coupling between hippocampal neurons: contrasting roles of principal cell gap junctions and interneuron gap junctions. Cell Tissue Res. 2018 Sep;373(3):671-691. doi: 10.1007/s00441-018-2881-3. Epub 2018 Aug 15. Review.

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Synaptic entrainment of ectopic action potential generation in hippocampal pyramidal neurons. J Physiol. 2018 Aug 24. doi: 10.1113/JP276720. [Epub ahead of print]

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Metabolic modulation of neuronal gamma-band oscillations. Pflugers Arch2018 Sep;470(9):1377-1389. doi: 10.1007/s00424-018-2156-6. Epub 2018 May 28.

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NFAT5 Isoform C Controls Biomechanical Stress Responses of Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells. Front Physiol. 2018 Aug 23;9:1190. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.01190. eCollection 2018.

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Persistent sodium current modulates axonal excitability in CA1 pyramidal neurons. J Neurochem. 2018 Aug;146(4):446-458. doi: 10.1111/jnc.14479. Epub 2018 Aug 1.

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Selective vulnerability of αOFF retinal ganglion cells during onset of autoimmune optic neuritis. Neuroscience. 2018 Jul 31. pii: S0306-4522(18)30515-3. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2018.07.040. [Epub ahead of print]

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The VAMP-associated protein VAPB is required for cardiac and neuronal pacemaker channel function. FASEB J. 2018 Jun 7:fj201800246R. doi: 10.1096/fj.201800246R. [Epub ahead of print]

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The lncRNA CASC9 and RNA binding protein HNRNPL form a complex and co-regulate genes linked to AKT signaling. Hepatology. 2018 May 23. doi: 10.1002/hep.30102. [Epub ahead of print]


Institute of
Physiology and Pathophysiology

Heidelberg University

Im Neuenheimer Feld 326

69120 Heidelberg

Germany

Phone:+49 6221 54-4035
Fax:+49 6221 54-4038
E-mail:sekretariat.hecker@
physiologie.uni-heidelberg.de