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Epilepsy Behav. 2003 Apr;4(2):153-60.

Temporal lobe seizures alter the amplitude and timing of rat behavioral rhythms.

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  • 1Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Medical Sciences Building, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada N6A 5C1.


Daily rhythms of spontaneous locomotor activity (SLA) in rats were studied before and after an episode of pilocarpine-induced convulsive status epilepticus (SE). A pronounced increase in activity levels during both the light and dark phases was found 1 week after SE as compared with baseline SLA and controls administered saline. Rats with bilateral lesions of the nucleus accumbens (shell) did not exhibit any significant change in SLA 1 week after SE compared with controls. We suggest that during the first week after SE the increase in SLA was induced by abnormal neuronal activity in the hippocampus driving a descending limbic-motor pathway via the nucleus accumbens. EEG recordings revealed high-amplitude interictal spikes in hippocampal CA1. During subsequent weeks, SLA rhythms of nonlesioned chronic epileptic rats remained elevated but progressively normalized over a period of 12 weeks. Although both chronic epileptic and control groups displayed near-24-hour activity patterns under light-dark conditions, significant delays (>4 hour) in acrophase were observed after spontaneous seizures had developed. The phase delay was positively correlated with seizure history and likely the result of postictal hyperactivity associated with seizures during the normal rest period. Despite these changes, cell density in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) and intergeniculate leaflet (IGL) did not differ significantly between epileptic and control groups. In the absence of damage to brain areas directly involved with the regulation of behavioral rhythms, chronic seizure activity presumably alters the timing of activity patterns through a nonphotic mechanism, perhaps involving activation of the SCN or IGL during limbic seizures.

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