Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) is known to promote neurogenesis and survival. However, recent studies have suggested that IGF-1 regulates neuronal firing and excitatory neurotransmission. In the present study, focusing on temporal lobe epilepsy, we found that IGF-1 levels and IGF-1 receptor activation are increased in human epileptogenic tissues, and pilocarpine- and pentylenetetrazole-treated rat models. Using an acute model of seizures, we showed that lateral cerebroventricular infusion of IGF-1 elevates IGF-1 receptor (IGF-1R) signalling before pilocarpine application had proconvulsant effects. In vivo electroencephalogram recordings and power spectrogram analysis of local field potential revealed that IGF-1 promotes epileptiform activities. This effect is diminished by co-application of an IGF-1R inhibitor. In an in vitro electrophysiological study, we demonstrated that IGF-1 enhancement of excitatory neurotransmission and α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionic acid receptor- and N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor-mediated currents is inhibited by IGF-1R inhibitor. Finally, activation of extracellular signal-related kinase (ERK)-1/2 and protein kinase B (Akt) in seizures in rats is increased by exogenous IGF-1 and diminished by picropodophyllin. A behavioural study reveals that the ERK1/2 or Akt inhibitor attenuates seizure activity. These results indicate that increased IGF-1 levels after recurrent hippocampal neuronal firings might, in turn, promote seizure activity via IGF-1R-dependent mechanisms. The present study presents a previously unappreciated role of IGF-1R in the development of seizure activity.

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