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Epilepsy Behav. 2017 Aug;73:214-235. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2017.05.040. Epub 2017 Jun 23.

The relevance of inter- and intrastrain differences in mice and rats and their implications for models of seizures and epilepsy.

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Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Pharmacy, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Hannover, Germany; Center for Systems Neuroscience, Hannover, Germany. Electronic address:
Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics, Albany Medical College, Albany, NY, United States; Department of Neurology, Albany Medical College, Albany, NY, United States.
Department of Biomedical Sciences, Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, Camden, NJ, United States.


It is becoming increasingly clear that the genetic background of mice and rats, even in inbred strains, can have a profound influence on measures of seizure susceptibility and epilepsy. These differences can be capitalized upon through genetic mapping studies to reveal genes important for seizures and epilepsy. However, strain background and particularly mixed genetic backgrounds of transgenic animals need careful consideration in both the selection of strains and in the interpretation of results and conclusions. For instance, mice with targeted deletions of genes involved in epilepsy can have profoundly disparate phenotypes depending on the background strain. In this review, we discuss findings related to how this genetic heterogeneity has and can be utilized in the epilepsy field to reveal novel insights into seizures and epilepsy. Moreover, we discuss how caution is needed in regards to rodent strain or even animal vendor choice, and how this can significantly influence seizure and epilepsy parameters in unexpected ways. This is particularly critical in decisions regarding the strain of choice used in generating mice with targeted deletions of genes. Finally, we discuss the role of environment (at vendor and/or laboratory) and epigenetic factors for inter- and intrastrain differences and how such differences can affect the expression of seizures and the animals' performance in behavioral tests that often accompany acute and chronic seizure testing.


Genetic background effects; Genetic heterogeneity; Genetic mapping; Inbred rodent strains

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