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Epilepsy Res. 1996 Dec;26(1):219-31.

Neuron loss, mossy fiber sprouting, and interictal spikes after intrahippocampal kainate in developing rats.

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Brain Research Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, USA.


This study determined neuron losses, mossy fiber sprouting, and interictal spike frequencies in adult rats following intrahippocampal kainic acid (KA) injections during postnatal (PN) development. KA (0.4 micrograms/0.2 microliters; n = 64) was injected into one hippocampus and saline into the contralateral side between PN 7 to 30 days. Animals were sacrificed 28 to 256 days later, along with age-matched naive animals (controls; n = 20). Hippocampi were studied for: (1) Fascia dentata granule cell, hilar, and CA3c neuron counts; (2) neo-Timm's stained supragranular mossy fiber sprouting; and (3) hippocampal and intracerebral interictal spike densities (n = 13). Mossy fiber sprouting was quantified as the gray value differences between the inner and outer molecular layer. Statistically significant results (p < 0.05) showed the following: (1) Compared to controls, CA3c and hilar neuron counts were reduced in KA-hippocampi with injections at PN 7-10 and PN 12-14 respectively and counts decreased with older PN injections. Granule cell densities on the KA-side and saline injected hippocampi were not reduced compared to controls. (2) In adult rats, supragranular mossy fiber sprouting was observed in 2 of 7 PN 7 injected animals. Compared to controls, increased gray value differences, indicating mossy fiber sprouting, were found on the KA-side beginning with injuries at PN 12-14 and increasing with older PN injections. On the saline-side only PN 30 animals showed minimal sprouting. (3) Mossy fiber sprouting progressively increased on the KA-side with longer survivals in rats injured after PN 15. Sprouting correlated positively with later PN injections and longer post-injection survival intervals, and not with reduced hilar or CA3c neuron counts. (4) On the KA-side, mossy fiber gray value differences correlated positively with in vivo intrahippocampal interictal spike densities. These results indicate that during postnatal rat development intrahippocampal kainate excitotoxicity can occur as early as PN 7 and increases with older ages at injection. This rat model reproduces many of the pathologic, behavioral, and electrophysiologic features of human mesial temporal lobe epilepsy, and supports the hypothesis that hippocampal sclerosis can be the consequence of focal injury during early postnatal development that progressively evolves into a pathologic and epileptic focus.

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