The functional impact of adult-generated granule cells in the epileptic brain is unclear, with data supporting both protective and maladaptive roles. These conflicting findings could be explained if new granule cells integrate heterogeneously, with some cells taking neutral or adaptive roles and others contributing to recurrent circuitry supporting seizures. Here, we tested this hypothesis by completing detailed morphological characterizations of age- and experience-defined cohorts of adult-generated granule cells from transgenic mice. The majority of newborn cells exposed to an epileptogenic insult exhibited reductions in dendritic spine number, suggesting reduced excitatory input to these cells. A significant subset, however, exhibited higher spine numbers. These latter cells tended to have enlarged cell bodies, long basal dendrites, or both. Moreover, cells with basal dendrites received significantly more recurrent mossy fiber input through their apical dendrites, indicating that these cells are robustly integrated into the pathological circuitry of the epileptic brain. These data imply that newborn cells play complex--and potentially conflicting--roles in epilepsy.
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