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Neuroscience. 1993 Aug;55(4):975-89.

Kynurenine pathway enzymes in a rat model of chronic epilepsy: immunohistochemical study of activated glial cells.

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Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore 21228.


The kynurenine pathway metabolites quinolinic acid and kynurenic acid have been hypothetically linked to the occurrence of seizure phenomena. The present immunohistochemical study reports the activation of astrocytes containing three enzymes responsible for the metabolism of quinolinic acid and kynurenic acid in a rat model of chronic epilepsy. Rats received 90 min of patterned electrical stimulation through a bipolar electrode stereotaxically positioned in one hippocampus. This treatment induces non-convulsive limbic status epilepticus that leads to chronic, spontaneous, recurrent seizures. One month after the status epilepticus, the rats showed neuronal loss and gliosis in the piriform cortex, thalamus, and hippocampus, particularly on the side contralateral to the stimulation. Astrocytes containing the kynurenic acid biosynthetic enzyme (kynurenine aminotransferase) and the enzymes for the biosynthesis and degradation of quinolinic acid (3-hydroxyanthranilic acid oxygenase and quinolinic acid phosphoribosyltransferase, respectively) became highly hypertrophied in brain areas where neurodegeneration occurred. Detailed qualitative and quantitative analyses were performed in the hippocampus. In CA1 and CA3 regions, the immunostained surface area of reactive astrocytes increased up to five-fold as compared to controls. Enlarged cells containing the three enzymes were mainly observed in the stratum radiatum, whereas the stratum pyramidale, in which neuronal somata degenerated, showed relatively fewer reactive glial cells. Hypertrophied kynurenine aminotransferase- and 3-hydroxyanthranilic acid oxygenase-immunoreactive cells were comparable in their morphology and distribution pattern. In contrast, reactive quinolinic acid phosphoribosyl transferase-positive glial cells displayed diversified sizes and shapes. Some very large quinolinic acid phosphoribosyl transferase-immunoreactive cells were noticed in the molecular layer of the dentate gyrus. In the hippocampus, the number of immunoreactive glial cells increased in parallel to the hypertrophic responses. In addition, pronounced increases in immunoreactivities, associated with hypertrophied astrocytes, occurred around lesioned sites in the thalamus and piriform cortex. These findings indicate that kynurenine metabolites derived from glial cells may play a role in chronic epileptogenesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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