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Brain Res. 1989 Sep 18;497(2):344-60.

Ethosuximide alters intrathalamic and thalamocortical synchronizing mechanisms: a possible explanation of its antiabsence effect.

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Clinica Neurologica, Università di Padova, Italy.


Effects of systemic administration of a single dose (50 mg/kg) of ethosuximide (ESM) on extracellularly recorded thalamic (nucleus centralis lateralis, CL; nucleus reticularis, RE) and cortical neurons and on cortical EEG activity of acute cats, have been studied. In intact animals ESM led to: (a) desynchronization of cortical EEG activity; (b) reduction of cortical recruiting responses to 6 Hz stimulation of nucleus centralis medialis (CeM); (c) increased firing rate of CL units; and (d) reduction of incremental responses (IRs) of CL neurons to CeM stimulation. In midbrain reticular formation (MRF)-lesioned animals, ESM induced: (a) reduction of cortical spindle waves; (b) increment of their intraburst frequency; (c) reduction of the IR of CL neurons to 3 and 6 Hz CeM stimulation; (d) shortening of the inhibitory period following each response; and (e) no increment of spontaneous firing rate of CL units. Moreover, ESM led to important changes in the spontaneous activity of RE neurons: spike barrages, typical of these neurons in MRF-lesioned animals, became less frequent and of longer duration, being also constituted by longer interspike intervals. However, responses of RE neurons to low frequency CeM stimulation, when present, did not show any incremental phenomenon and appeared unchanged after ESM. Responses of cortical neurons to paired stimuli, applied with different interstimulus intervals, to nucleus ventralis posterolateralis or in animals with isolated cortex, to subcortical white matter, disclosed a reduction of the cortical inhibitory period following the response to the conditioning stimulus. These data suggest that ESM exerts a moderate diffuse anti-inhibitory action at both cortical and thalamic levels and an activating effect on MRF, which could also be accomplished through disinhibition. The reduction of the inhibitory phases in thalamic nuclei would alter spontaneous intrathalamic synchronizing mechanisms, leading to a decreased effectiveness of thalamocortical volleys, which are believed to be fundamental for the appearance of cortical spike and wave discharges. This hypothesis would therefore explain the specific efficacy of ESM against absence seizures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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