Carolyn R. Houser, Ph.D.


Professor, Neurobiology

Member, Brain Research Institute

Neuroscience GPB Home Area

Contact Information

Lab Number: 310-206-6563
Office Phone Number: 310-206-1567

Work Address:

Los Angeles, CA 90095
Los Angeles, CA 90095


Research Interest: Neurochemical anatomy, neuronal plasticity and development of the CNS

The broad research interests of the laboratory are the neurochemical anatomy and morphological plasticity of the mammalian central nervous system. Research is focused on the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) system. GABA is an extremely important neurotransmitter in many brain regions and may also have trophic roles during development of the nervous system. Both the presynaptic neurons that use GABA as a neurotransmitter and the postsynaptic sites at which these neurons exert their influence are being studied. Immunohistochemical and in situ hybridization methods are used to study the localization and regulation of the proteins and mRNAs of two forms of the synthesizing enzyme for GABA, glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) and multiple subtypes of the GABA-A receptor. Interrelationships between the GABA neurons and their receptors are being studied in the normal brain, during development and in experimental conditions in which the GABA system is altered. The brain region of major interest in these studies is the hippocampus.

The goals of a second but related group of studies are to identify the morphological and neurochemical changes that occur in epilepsy. Such changes are being studied in human tissue and in animal models of seizures. These models allow us to identify the changes that occur following an initial insult to the nervous system and then to determine the progression of morphological and neurochemical changes that may lead to the development of increased excitability and spontaneous seizures.


Peng Zechun, Zhang Nianhui, Wei Weizheng, Huang Christine S, Cetina Yliana, Otis Thomas S, Houser Carolyn R   A reorganized GABAergic circuit in a model of epilepsy: evidence from optogenetic labeling and stimulation of somatostatin interneurons The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 2013; 33(36): 14392-405.
Mathews Paul J, Lee Ka Hung, Peng Zechun, Houser Carolyn R, Otis Thomas S   Effects of climbing fiber driven inhibition on Purkinje neuron spiking The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 2012; 32(50): 17988-97.
Houser Carolyn R, Zhang Nianhui, Peng Zechun, Huang Christine S, Cetina Yliana   Neuroanatomical clues to altered neuronal activity in epilepsy: from ultrastructure to signaling pathways of dentate granule cells Epilepsia, 2012; 53 Suppl 1(50): 67-77.
Houser Carolyn R, Zhang Nianhui, Peng Zechun, Huang Christine S, Cetina Yliana   Neuroanatomical clues to altered neuronal activity in epilepsy: from ultrastructure to signaling pathways of dentate granule cells Epilepsia, 2012; 53 Suppl 1(50): 67-77.
Soussi Rabia, Zhang Nianhui, Tahtakran Siroun, Houser Carolyn R, Esclapez Monique   Heterogeneity of the supramammillary-hippocampal pathways: evidence for a unique GABAergic neurotransmitter phenotype and regional differences The European journal of neuroscience, 2010; 32(5): 771-85.
Li Yi, Peng Zechun, Xiao Bo, Houser Carolyn R   Activation of ERK by spontaneous seizures in neural progenitors of the dentate gyrus in a mouse model of epilepsy Experimental neurology, 2010; 224(1): 133-45.
Wyeth Megan S, Zhang Nianhui, Mody Istvan, Houser Carolyn R   Selective reduction of cholecystokinin-positive basket cell innervation in a model of temporal lobe epilepsy The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 2010; 30(26): 8993-9006.
Heusner CL, Beutler LR, Houser CR, Palmiter RD.   Deletion of GAD67 in dopamine receptor-1 expressing cells causes specific motor deficits, Genesis, 2008; 46(7): 357-67.
Houser CR, Huang CS, Peng Z.   Dynamic seizure-related changes in extracellular signal-regulated kinase activation in a mouse model of temporal lobe epilepsy, Neuroscience, 2008; .
Glykys J, Peng Z, Chandra D, Homanics GE, Houser CR, Mody I.   A new naturally occurring GABA(A) receptor subunit partnership with high sensitivity to ethanol, Nat Neurosci, 2007; 10(1): 40-8.
Zhang N, Wei W, Mody I, Houser CR.   Altered localization of GABA(A) receptor subunits on dentate granule cell dendrites influences tonic and phasic inhibition in a mouse model of epilepsy, J Neurosci, 2007; 27(28): 7520-31.
Houser CR.   Interneurons of the dentate gyrus: An overview of cell types, terminal fields and neurochemical identity, Prog Brain Res, 2007; 163: 217-811.
Liang J, Zhang N, Cagetti E, Houser CR, Olsen RW, Spigelman I.   Chronic intermittent ethanol-induced switch of ethanol actions from extrasynaptic to synaptic hippocampal GABAA receptors, J Neurosci, 2006; 26(6): 1749-58.
Chandra D, Jia F, Liang J, Peng Z, Suryanarayanan A, Werner DF, Spigelman I, Houser CR, Olsen RW, Harrison NL, Homanics GE.   GABAA receptor alpha 4 subunits mediate extrasynaptic inhibition in thalamus and dentate gyrus and the action of gaboxadol, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2006; 103(41): 15230-5.
Swartz BE, Houser CR, Tomiyasu U, Walsh GO, DeSalles A, Rich JR, Delgado-Escueta A.   Hippocampal cell loss in posttraumatic human epilepsy, Epilepsia, 2006; 47(8): 1373-82.
Farrar C, Houser CR, Clarke S.   Activation of the PI3K/Akt signal transduction pathway and increased levels of insulin receptor in protein repair-deficient mice, Aging Cell, 2005; 4(1): 1-12.
Farrar CE, Huang CS, Clarke SG, Houser CR.   Increased cell proliferation and granule cell number in the dentate gyrus of protein repair-deficient mice, J Comp Neurol, 2005; 493(4): 527-37.
Peng Z, Houser CR.   Temporal patterns of fos expression in the dentate gyrus after spontaneous seizures in a mouse model of temporal lobe epilepsy, J Neurosci, 2005; 25(31): 7210-20.
Peng Z, Huang CS, Stell BM, Mody I, Houser CR.   Altered expression of the delta subunit of the GABAA receptor in a mouse model of temporal lobe epilepsy, J Neurosci, 2004; 24(39): 8629-39.
Houser CR, Esclapez M.   Downregulation of the alpha5 subunit of the GABA(A) receptor in the pilocarpine model of temporal lobe epilepsy, Hippocampus, 2003; 13(5): 633-45.
Wei W, Zhang N, Peng Z, Houser CR, Mody I.   Perisynaptic localization of delta subunit-containing GABA(A) receptors and their activation by GABA spillover in the mouse dentate gyrus, J Neurosci, 2003; 23(33): 10650-61.
Peng Z, Hauer B, Mihalek RM, Homanics GE, Sieghart W, Olsen RW, Houser CR.   GABA(A) receptor changes in delta subunit-deficient mice: altered expression of alpha4 and gamma2 subunits in the forebrain, J Comp Neurol, 2002; 446(2): 179-97.
Houser CR, Esclapez M, Zhang N.   GABA neurons of the hippocampal formation: Localization, vulnerability and plasticity, GABA in the Nervous System: The View at Fifty Years, 2000; 337-56.
Dupuy-Davies S, Houser CR.   Evidence for changing positions of GABA neurons in the developing rat dentate gyrus Hippocampus, 1999; 9(2): 186-99.
Houser CR.   Neuronal loss and synaptic reorganization in temporal lobe epilepsy, Adv Neurol, 1999; 79: 743-61.
Houser, CR, Dupuy, ST, Zhang N.   Prominent expression of glutamate decarboxylase during early hippocampal development, Childhood Epilepsies and Brain Development, 1999; pp.13-24.
Zhang N, Houser CR.   Ultrastructural localization of dynorphin in the dentate gyrus in human temporal lobe epilepsy: a study of reorganized mossy fiber synapses, J Comp Neurol, 1999; 405(4): 472-90.
Esclapez M, Houser CR.   Up-regulation of GAD65 and GAD67 in remaining hippocampal GABA neurons in a model of temporal lobe epilepsy, J Comp Neurol, 1999; 412(3): 488-505.
Esclapez, M, Chang D, Houser CR.   Subpopulations of GABA neurons in the dentate gyrus express high levels of the alpha1 subunit of the GABA-A receptor, Hippocampus, 1996; 6: 225-238.
Esclapez M, Houser CR.   Somatostatin neurons are a subpopulation of GABA neurons in the rat dentate gyrus: Evidence from co-localization of pre-prosomatostatin and glutamate decarboxylase mRNAs, Neuroscience, 1995; 64: 339-355.
Esclapez M, Tillakaratne NJ, Tobin AJ, Houser CR.   Comparative localization of mRNAs encoding two forms of glutamic acid decarboxylase with nonradioactive in situ hybridization methods J Comp Neurol, 1993; 331(3): 339-62.
Houser CR   GABA neurons in seizure disorders: A review of immunocytochemical studies, Neurochem Res, 1991; 16: 295-308.
Kafman DL, Houser CR, Tocin AJ   Two forms of the gamma-aminobutyric acid synthetic enzyme glutamate decarboxylase have distinct intraneuronal distributions and cofactor interactions, J Neurochem, 1991; 56: 720-723.
Houser, CR   Granule cell dispersion in the dentate gyrus of humans with temporal lobe epilepsy, Brain Res, 1990; 535: 195-204.
Houser CR, Miyashiro JE, Swartz BE, Walsh GO, Rich JR, Delgado-Escueta AV.   Altered patterns of dynorphin immunoreactivity suggest mossy fiber reorganization in human hippocampal epilepsy J Neurosci, 1990; 10(1): 267-82.