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Epilepsia. 2000;41 Suppl 6:S153-61.

Postlesional epilepsy: the ultimate brain plasticity.

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  • 1Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, Stanford University Medical Center, California 94305, USA. kmjake@leland.stanford.edu


Lesions that occur either during fetal development or after postnatal brain trauma often result in seizures that are difficult to treat. We used two animal models to examine epileptogenic mechanisms associated with lesions that occur either during cortical development or in young adults. Results from these experiments suggest that there are three general ways that injury may induce hyperexcitability. Direct injury to cortical pyramidal neurons causes changes in membrane ion channels that make these cells more responsive to excitatory inputs, including increases in input resistance and a reduction in calcium-activated potassium conductances that regulate the rate of action potential discharge. The connectivity of cortical circuits is also altered after injury, as shown by axonal sprouting within pyramidal cell intracortical arbors. Enhanced excitatory connections may increase recurrent excitatory loops within the epileptogenic zone. Hyperinnervation attributable to reorganization of thalamocortical, callosal, and intracortical circuitry, and failure to prune immature connections, may be prominent when lesions affect the developing neocortex. Finally, focal injury can produce widespread changes in gamma-aminobutyric acid and glutamate receptors, particularly in the developing brain. All of these factors may contribute to epileptogenesis.

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