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Seizure. 2015 Jan;24:44-51. doi: 10.1016/j.seizure.2014.09.018. Epub 2014 Oct 13.

Epilepsy research methods update: Understanding the causes of epileptic seizures and identifying new treatments using non-mammalian model organisms.

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Bateson Centre, Department of Biomedical Science, University of Sheffield, Firth Court, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TN, United Kingdom. Electronic address:
Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, AV Hill Building, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PT, United Kingdom. Electronic address:
Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, AV Hill Building, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PT, United Kingdom.
Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, Institute of Translational Medicine, University of Liverpool, Crown Street, Liverpool L69 3BX, United Kingdom. Electronic address:
Academic Neurology Unit, University of Sheffield, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Glossop Road, Sheffield S10 2JF, United Kingdom. Electronic address:
Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences, Royal Veterinary College, Royal College Street, London NW1 0TU, United Kingdom. Electronic address:
Department of Clinical and Experimental Epilepsy, Institute of Neurology, University College London, Queen Square, London WC1N 3BG, United Kingdom. Electronic address:
School of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway College, University of London, Egham Hill, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX, United Kingdom. Electronic address:


This narrative review is intended to introduce clinicians treating epilepsy and researchers familiar with mammalian models of epilepsy to experimentally tractable, non-mammalian research models used in epilepsy research, ranging from unicellular eukaryotes to more complex multicellular organisms. The review focuses on four model organisms: the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum, the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and the zebrafish Danio rerio. We consider recent discoveries made with each model organism and discuss the importance of these advances for the understanding and treatment of epilepsy in humans. The relative ease with which mutations in genes of interest can be produced and studied quickly and cheaply in these organisms, together with their anatomical and physiological simplicity in comparison to mammalian species, are major advantages when researchers are trying to unravel complex disease mechanisms. The short generation times of most of these model organisms also mean that they lend themselves particularly conveniently to the investigation of drug effects or epileptogenic processes across the lifecourse.


Animal research; Anti epileptic drugs; Epilepsy; Epileptogenesis; Ictogenesis; Non-mammalian

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