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Neuroscience. 2000;99(3):469-81.

The lesional and epileptogenic consequences of lithium-pilocarpine-induced status epilepticus are affected by previous exposure to isolated seizures: effects of amygdala kindling and maximal electroshocks.

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INSERM U398, Faculté de Médecine, Université Louis Pasteur, 67085 Cedex, Strasbourg, France.


In temporal lobe epilepsy, the occurrence of seizures seems to correlate with the presence of lesions underlying the establishment of a hyperexcitable circuit. However, in the lithium-pilocarpine model of epilepsy, neuronal damage occurs both in the structures belonging to the circuit of initiation and maintenance of the seizures (forebrain limbic system) as in the propagation areas (cortex and thalamus) and in the circuit of remote control of seizures (substantia nigra pars reticulata). To determine whether or not we could protect the brain from lesions and epileptogenesis induced by status epilepticus and identify cerebral structures involved in the genesis of epilepsy, we studied the effects of the chronic exposure to non-deleterious seizures, either focalized with secondary generalization (amygdala kindling, kindled-pilocarpine rats), or primary generalized (ear-clip electroshocks, electroshock-pilocarpine rats) on neuronal damage and epileptogenesis induced by lithium-pilocarpine status epilepticus. These animals were compared to rats subjected to status epilepticus but not pretreated with seizures (sham-kindled-pilocarpine or sham-electroshock-pilocarpine rats). Compared to sham-pilocarpine rats, neuronal damage was prevented in the limbic system of the kindled-pilocarpine rats, except in the hilus of the dentate gyrus and the entorhinal cortex, while it was enhanced in rats pretreated with electroshocks, mainly in the entorhinal and perirhinal cortices. Most sham-kindled- and sham-electroshock-pilocarpine rats (92-100%) developed recurrent seizures after a silent period of 40-54days. Likewise, all kindled-pilocarpine rats developed spontaneous seizures after the same latency as their sham controls, while only two of 10 electroshock-pilocarpine rats became epileptic after a delay of 106-151days. The present data show that the apparent antiepileptic properties of electroshocks correlate with extensive damage in midbrain cortical regions, which may prevent the propagation of seizures from the hippocampus and inhibit their motor expression. Conversely, the extensive neuroprotection of the limbic system but not the hilus and entorhinal cortex provided by amygdala kindling does not prevent epileptogenesis. Thus, the hilus, the entorhinal and/or perirhinal cortex may be key structure(s) for the establishment of epilepsy.

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