Cortical spreading depression (CSD), a wave of depolarization followed by depression of cortical activity, is a pathophysiological process implicated in migraine with aura and various other brain pathologies, such as ischemic stroke and traumatic brain injury. To gain insight into the pathophysiology of CSD, we generated a mouse model for a severe monogenic subtype of migraine with aura, familial hemiplegic migraine type 3 (FHM3). FHM3 is caused by mutations in SCN1A, encoding the voltage-gated Na+ channel NaV1.1 predominantly expressed in inhibitory interneurons. Homozygous Scn1aL1649Q knock-in mice died prematurely, whereas heterozygous mice had a normal lifespan. Heterozygous Scn1aL1649Q knock-in mice compared with WT mice displayed a significantly enhanced susceptibility to CSD. We found L1649Q to cause a gain-of-function effect with an impaired Na+-channel inactivation and increased ramp Na+ currents leading to hyperactivity of fast-spiking inhibitory interneurons. Brain slice recordings using K+-sensitive electrodes revealed an increase in extracellular K+ in the early phase of CSD in heterozygous mice, likely representing the mechanistic link between interneuron hyperactivity and CSD initiation. The neuronal phenotype and premature death of homozygous Scn1aL1649Q knock-in mice was partially rescued by GS967, a blocker of persistent Na+ currents. Collectively, our findings identify interneuron hyperactivity as a mechanism to trigger CSD.
Eva Auffenberg, Ulrike B.S. Hedrich, Raffaella Barbieri, Daniela Miely, Bernhard Groschup, Thomas V. Wuttke, Niklas Vogel, Philipp Lührs, Ilaria Zanardi, Sara Bertelli, Nadine Spielmann, Valerie Gailus-Durner, Helmut Fuchs, Martin Hrabě de Angelis, Michael Pusch, Martin Dichgans, Holger Lerche, Paola Gavazzo, Nikolaus Plesnila, Tobias Freilinger