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Epilepsy Res. 2005 Jan;63(1):27-42. Epub 2004 Dec 28.

Administration of diazepam during status epilepticus reduces development and severity of epilepsy in rat.

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A.I. Virtanen Institute, University of Kuopio, P.O. Box 1627, FIN-70 211 Kuopio, Finland.


Prevention of epileptogenesis after brain insults, such as status epilepticus (SE), head trauma, or stroke, remains a challenge. Even if epilepsy cannot be prevented, it would be beneficial if the pathologic process could be modified to result in a less severe disease. We examined whether early discontinuation of SE reduces the risk of epilepsy or results in milder disease. Epileptogenesis was triggered with SE induced by electrical stimulation of the amygdala. Animals (n = 72) were treated with vehicle or diazepam (DZP, 20 mg/kg) 2 h or 3 h after the beginning of SE. Electrode-implanted non-stimulated rats served as controls for histology. All animals underwent continuous long-term video-electroencephalography monitoring 7-9 weeks and 11-15 weeks later to detect the occurrence and severity of spontaneous seizures. As another outcome measure, the severity of hippocampal damage was assessed in histologic sections. In the vehicle group, 94% of animals developed epilepsy. DZP treatment reduced the percentage of epileptic animals to 42% in the 2-h DZP group and to 71% in the 3-h DZP group (p < 0.001 and p < 0.05 compared to the vehicle group, respectively). If epilepsy developed, the seizures were less frequent in DZP-treated animals compared to the vehicle group (median 16.4 seizures/day), particularly in the 2-h DZP group (median 0.4 seizures/day). Finally, if DZP treatment was started 2 h, but not 3 h after SE, the severity of hippocampal cell loss was milder and the density of mossy-fiber sprouting was lower than in the vehicle group. These data indicate that treatment of SE with DZP within 2 h reduces the risk of epilepsy later in life, and if epilepsy develops, it is milder.

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