Disease Models & Mechanisms, 2018, 11 (12), dmm036194

Semiology, clustering, periodicity and natural history of seizures in an experimental visual cortical epilepsy model

Bao-Luen Chang, Marco Leite, Albert Snowball, Andreas Lieb, Elodie Chabrol, Matthew C. Walker, Dimitri M. Kullmann, Stephanie Schorge, Robert C. Wykes*

Focal neocortical epilepsy is a common form of epilepsy and there is a need to develop animal models that allow the evaluation of novel therapeutic strategies to treat this type of epilepsy. Tetanus toxin (TeNT) injection into the rat visual cortex induces focal neocortical epilepsy without preceding status epilepticus. The latency to first seizure ranged from 3 to 7 days. Seizure duration was bimodal, with both short (approximately 30 s) and long-lasting (>100 s) seizures occurring in the same animals. Seizures were accompanied by non-motor features such as behavioural arrest, or motor seizures with or without evolution to generalized tonic-clonic seizures. Seizures were more common during the sleep phase of a light-dark cycle. Seizure occurrence was not random, and tended to cluster with significantly higher probability of recurrence within 24 h of a previous seizure. Across animals, the number of seizures in the first week could be used to predict the number of seizures in the following 3 weeks. The TeNT model of occipital cortical epilepsy is a model of acquired focal neocortical epilepsy that is well-suited for preclinical evaluation of novel anti-epileptic strategies. We provide here a detailed analysis of the epilepsy phenotypes, seizure activity, electrographic features and the semiology. In addition, we provide a predictive framework that can be used to reduce variation and consequently animal use in preclinical studies of potential treatments.