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Epilepsia. 1999 Apr;40(4):394-400.

Characterization of seizures in the flathead rat: a new genetic model of epilepsy in early postnatal development.

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1
Department of Physiology and Neurobiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs 06269, USA.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

Disorders in normal central nervous system (CNS) development are often associated with epilepsy. This report characterizes seizures in a novel genetic model of developmental epilepsy, the Flathead (FH) rat.

METHODS:

Animals (n = 76) ages P0-22 were monitored for clinical and electrographic seizure activity. The effects of various AEDs on seizure frequency and duration also were assessed: phenobarbital (PB; 40 mg/kg), valproate (VPA; 400 mg/kg), or ethosuximide (ESM; 600 mg/kg).

RESULTS:

FHs display episodes of behavior characterized by whole-body tremor, strub tail, alternating forelimb clonus, and complete tonus. EEG recordings from neocortex reveal that FH seizures are bilateral and begin around P7. Seizures occur at a frequency of approximately six per hour from P7 to P18 and the average duration of seizures increases through development. PB, VPA, and ESM failed to prevent seizures; however, PB significantly increased the interval of seizures but had no effects on the duration of seizures, whereas VPA decreased the duration of seizures and not the interval.

CONCLUSIONS:

Seizures in FH rats occur at a constant and high frequency through a defined period in early postnatal development, and these seizures are not completely blocked by high doses of PB, VPA, or ESM. Because FH is a single-locus mutant displaying a highly regular pattern of seizure activity, it is an ideal model for examining the process of epileptogenesis in the developing brain, evaluating new AED therapies, and determining the identity of a gene essential to the normal development of cortical excitability.

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