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Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 1989 Jul-Sep;14(3):245-78.

Animal models of the epilepsies.

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Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205.


The study of mechanisms of the epilepsies requires employment of animal models. Choice of a model system depends upon several factors, including the question to be studied, the type of epilepsy to be modelled, familiarity and convenience. Over 50 models are reviewed. Major categories of models are those for simple partial seizures: topical convulsants, acute electrical stimulation, cortically implanted metals, cryogenic injury; for complex partial seizures: kainic acid, tetanus toxin, injections into area tempesta, kindling, rodent hippocampal slice, isolated cell preparations, human neurosurgical tissue; for generalized tonic-clonic seizures: genetically seizure-prone strains of mouse, rat, gerbil, fruitfly and baboon, maximal electroshock seizures, systemic chemical convulsants, metabolic derangements; and for generalized absence seizures: thalamic stimulation, bilateral cortical foci, systemic penicillin, gamma-hydroxy-butyrate, intraventricular opiates, genetic rat models. The lithium-pilocarpine, homocysteine and rapid repetitive stimulation models are most useful in studies of status epilepticus. Key findings learned from each of the models, the model's strengths and weaknesses are detailed. Interpretation of findings from each of these models can be difficult. Do results pertain to the epilepsies or to the particular model under study? How important are species differences? Which clinical seizure type is really being modelled? In a model are behavior or EEG findings only similar superficially to epilepsy, or are the mechanisms comparable? The wealth of preparations available to model the epilepsies underscores the need for unifying themes, and for better understanding of basic mechanisms of the epilepsies.

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