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Neurobiol Dis. 2011 Apr;42(1):35-47. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2011.01.001. Epub 2011 Jan 8.

Increase in BDNF-mediated TrkB signaling promotes epileptogenesis in a mouse model of mesial temporal lobe epilepsy.

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Grenoble Institut des Neurosciences, INSERM U836-UJF-CEA-CHU, Dynamique des Réseaux Synchrones Epileptiques, Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France.


Mesio-temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE), the most common drug-resistant epilepsy syndrome, is characterized by the recurrence of spontaneous focal seizures after a latent period that follows, in most patients, an initial insult during early childhood. Many of the mechanisms that have been associated with the pathophysiology of MTLE are known to be regulated by brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the healthy brain and an excess of this neurotrophin could therefore play a critical role in MTLE development. However, such a function remains controversial as other studies revealed that BDNF could, on the contrary, exert protective effects regarding epilepsy development. In the present study, we further addressed the role of increased BDNF/TrkB signaling on the progressive development of hippocampal seizures in the mouse model of MTLE obtained by intrahippocampal injection of kainate. We show that hippocampal seizures progressively developed in the injected hippocampus during the first two weeks following kainate treatment, within the same time-frame as a long-lasting and significant increase of BDNF expression in dentate granule cells. To determine whether such a BDNF increase could influence hippocampal epileptogenesis via its TrkB receptors, we examined the consequences of (i) increased or (ii) decreased TrkB signaling on epileptogenesis, in transgenic mice overexpressing the (i) TrkB full-length or (ii) truncated TrkB-T1 receptors of BDNF. Epileptogenesis was significantly facilitated in mice with increased TrkB signaling but delayed in mutants with reduced TrkB signaling. In contrast, TrkB signaling did not influence granule cell dispersion, an important feature of this mouse model which is also observed in most MTLE patients. These results suggest that an increase in TrkB signaling, mediated by a long-lasting BDNF overexpression in the hippocampus, promotes epileptogenesis in MTLE.

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