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Exp Neurol. 2002 Oct;177(2):503-14.

Suppression of absence seizures by electrical and pharmacological activation of the caudal superior colliculus in a genetic model of absence epilepsy in the rat.

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  • 1Neurobiologie et Neuropharmacologie des Epilepsies Généralisées, INSERM U. 398, Faculté de Médecine, Strasbourg, France.


Activation of the superior colliculus has been shown to reproduce the antiepileptic effect of the inhibition of the substantia nigra reticulata. A circuit involving neurons of the caudal deep layers of the superior colliculus has been suggested to control brain stem convulsive seizures. The present study was designed to examine whether a similar circuit is also involved in the control of absence seizures. For this, activation of either the rostral or caudal parts of the deep and intermediate layers of the superior colliculus was applied in a genetic model of absence seizures in the rat (GAERS). Single-shock (5 s) electrical stimulation of the rostral and caudal superior colliculus interrupted ongoing spike-and-wave discharges at an intensity (antiepileptic threshold) significantly lower than the intensity inducing behavioral effects. At this intensity, no interruption of licking behavior was observed in water-deprived rats. Repeated stimulations (5 s on/5 s off) at the antiepileptic threshold reduced absence seizures only during the first 10 min. Bilateral microinjection of a GABA antagonist (picrotoxin, 33 pmol/side) significantly suppressed spike-and-wave discharges when applied in the caudal aspect of the superior colliculus. This antiepileptic effect appears dissociated from an anxiogenic effect, as tested in an elevated plus maze test. Finally, bilateral injection of picrotoxin (33 pmol/side) appeared more effective in the superficial and intermediate layers of the caudal superior colliculus, whereas such injections had only weak effects on absence seizures when applied in the deep layers. These results suggest that a specific population of neurons located in the intermediate and superficial layers of the caudal superior colliculus is involved in the inhibitory control of absence seizures. It may constitute an important relay for the control of absence seizures by the basal ganglia via the substantia nigra reticulata.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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