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Mol Brain. 2009 Jun 22;2:20. doi: 10.1186/1756-6606-2-20.

Maternal epileptic seizure induced by pentylenetetrazol: apoptotic neurodegeneration and decreased GABAB1 receptor expression in prenatal rat brain.

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  • 1Division of Life Science, College of Natural Sciences and Applied Life Science (Brain Korea 21), Gyeongsang National University, Chinju, 660-701, Republic of Korea.


Epilepsy is a prominent sign of neurological dysfunction in children with various fetal and maternal deficiencies. However, the detailed mechanism and influences underlying epileptic disorders are still unrevealed. The hippocampal neurons are vulnerable to epilepsy-induced pathologic changes and often manifests as neuronal death. The present study was designed to investigate the effect of maternal epileptic seizure on apoptotic neuronal death, modulation of GABAB1 receptor (R), and protein kinase A-alpha (PKA) in prenatal rat hippocampal neurons at gestational days (GD) 17.5. Seizure was induced in pregnant rat using intraperitoneal injection of pentylenetetrazol (PTZ) (40 mg/kg for 15 days). To confirm the seizure electroencephalography (EEG) data was obtained by the Laxtha EEG-monitoring device in the EEG recording room and EEG were monitored 5 min and 15 min after PTZ injection. The RT-PCR and Western blot results showed significant increased expression of cytochrome-c and caspases-3, while decreased levels of GABAB1R, and PKA protein expression upon ethanol, PTZ and ethanol plus PTZ exposure in primary neuronal cells cultured from PTZ-induced seizure model as compare to non-PTZ treated maternal group. Apoptotic neurodegeneration was further confirmed with Fluoro-Jade B and propidium iodide staining, where neurons were scattered and shrunken, with markedly condensed nuclei in PTZ treated group compared with control. This study for the first time indicate that PTZ-induced seizures triggered activation of caspases-3 to induce widespread apoptotic neuronal death and decreased GABAB1R expression in hippocampal neurons, providing a possible mechanistic link between maternal epilepsy induced neurodegeneration alteration of GABAB1R and PKA expression level during prenatal brain development. This revealed new aspects of PTZ and ethanol's modulation on GABAB1R, learning and memory. Further, explain the possibility that children delivered by epileptic mothers may have higher risk of developmental disturbances and malformations.

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