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Int J Dev Neurosci. 2010 May;28(3):227-32. doi: 10.1016/j.ijdevneu.2010.02.003. Epub 2010 Feb 17.

Effects of repeated minimal electroshock seizures on NGF, BDNF and FGF-2 protein in the rat brain during postnatal development.

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  • 1Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC 20057, USA.


Repeated brief seizures, such as those induced by electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), markedly elevate neurotrophic factor levels in the adult rat brain, but it is not known whether a similar response to seizures occurs in immature animals. To address this question, we evoked brief seizures with electroconvulsive shock (ECS) in rat pups at different stages of postnatal development and examined basic fibroblast growth factor (FGF-2), nerve growth factor (NGF), and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) proteins in selected brain regions in which these trophic factors are known to increase in the adult rat following ECS-induced seizures. ECS treatments were administered daily (3 episodes/day) over 7 days to rat pups of three different ages: postnatal day (P)1-7, P7-13, or P14-20. Protein levels were measured 6h after the last ECS using Western blotting for FGF-2 in rhinal cortex, ELISA for BDNF and NGF in hippocampus, and NGF in frontal cortex. 7 days of repeated ECS-induced seizures during P1-7 did not alter protein levels for BDNF, FGF-2, or NGF. The repeated seizures during P7-13 affected only BDNF protein, causing a significant elevation of 40% in hippocampus over sham-treated controls. In P14-20 pups, the repeated seizures resulted in a significant increase in BDNF in hippocampus (162% over controls) and FGF-2 in rhinal cortex (34% over controls), while NGF protein did not show a significant change in either hippocampus or frontal cortex. The results suggest that during the first postnatal week there is a resistance to seizure-induced increase in neurotrophic factors, but by the third postnatal week, both BDNF and FGF-2 are elevated substantially in response to repeated seizures. This time-dependent profile suggests that synthesis of these proteins is initially activity-independent, becoming subject to activity-dependent regulation by 3 weeks of age. This maturation of seizure-evoked changes in trophic factors may be important for understanding the impact of ECT and seizures in childhood.

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