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Epilepsy Res. 2004 Dec;62(2-3):135-56.

Epilepsy induced by extended amygdala-kindling in rats: lack of clear association between development of spontaneous seizures and neuronal damage.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmacy, School of Veterinary Medicine, Bünteweg 17, D-30559 Hannover, Germany.


Most patients with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), the most common type of epilepsy, show pronounced loss of neurons in limbic brain regions, including the hippocampus, amygdala, and parahippocampal regions. Hippocampal damage in patients with TLE is characterized by extensive neuronal loss in the CA3 and CA1 sectors and the hilus of the dentate gyrus. There is a long and ongoing debate on whether this type of hippocampal damage, referred to as hippocampal sclerosis, is the cause or consequence of TLE. Furthermore, hippocampal damage may contribute to the progressive features of TLE. The present study was designed to determine whether development of spontaneous recurrent seizures (SRS) after extended kindling of the amygdala in rats is associated with neuronal damage. The kindling model of TLE was chosen because previous studies have shown that only part of the rats develop SRS after extended kindling, thus allowing to compare the brain pathology of rats that received the same number of amygdala stimulation but did or did not develop SRS. For extended kindling, rats were stimulated twice daily 3-5 days a week for up to about 280 stimulations. During long-term EEG/video monitoring, SRS were observed in 50% of the rats over the period of extended kindling. SRS often started with myoclonic jerks or focal seizures and subsequently progressed into secondarily generalized seizures, so that the development of SRS recapitulated the earlier kindling of elicited seizures. No obvious neurodegeneration was observed in the CA1 and CA3 sectors of the hippocampus, the amygdala, parahippocampal regions or thalamus. A significant bilateral reduction in neuronal density was determined in the dentate hilus after extended kindling, but this reduction in hilar cell density did not significantly differ between rats with and without observed SRS. Determination of the total number of hilar neurons and of hilar volume indicated that the reduced neuronal density in the dentate hilus was due to expansion of hilar area but not to neuronal damage. The data demonstrate that extended kindling does not cause any hippocampal damage resembling hippocampal sclerosis, but that SRS develop in the absence of such damage.

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