Objectives: There is accumulating evidence to suggest psychiatric disorders, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, share common etiologies, pathophysiologies, genetics, and drug responses with many of the epilepsies. Here, we explored overlaps in cellular/molecular, electrophysiological, and behavioral phenotypes between putative mouse models of bipolar disorder/schizophrenia and epilepsy. We tested the hypothesis that an immature dentate gyrus (iDG), whose association with psychosis in patients has recently been reported, represents a common phenotype of both diseases. Methods: Behaviors of calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II alpha (α-CaMKII) heterozygous knock-out (KO) mice, which are a representative bipolar disorder/schizophrenia model displaying iDG, and pilocarpine-treated mice, which are a representative epilepsy model, were tested followed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR)/immunohistochemistry for mRNA/protein expression associated with an iDG phenotype. In vitro electrophysiology of dentate gyrus granule cells (DG GCs) was examined in pilocarpine-treated epileptic mice. Results: The two disease models demonstrated similar behavioral deficits, such as hyperactivity, poor working memory performance, and social withdrawal. Significant reductions in mRNA expression and immunoreactivity of the mature neuronal marker calbindin and concomitant increases in mRNA expression and immunoreactivity of the immature neuronal marker calretinin represent iDG signatures that are present in both mice models. Electrophysiologically, we have confirmed that DG GCs from pilocarpine-treated mice represent an immature state. A significant decrease in hippocampal α-CaMKII protein levels was also found in both models. Conclusions: Our data have shown iDG signatures from mouse models of both bipolar disorder/schizophrenia and epilepsy. The evidence suggests that the iDG may, in part, be responsible for the abnormal behavioral phenotype, and that the underlying pathophysiologies in epilepsy and bipolar disorder/schizophrenia are strikingly similar.
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