Augmented seizure susceptibility and hippocampal epileptogenesis in a translational mouse model of febrile status epilepticus

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Abstract

Objective

Prolonged fever‐induced seizures (febrile status epilepticus [FSE]) during early childhood increase the risk for later epilepsy, but the underlying mechanisms are incompletely understood. Experimental FSE (eFSE) in rats successfully models human FSE, recapitulating the resulting epileptogenesis in a subset of affected individuals. However, the powerful viral and genetic tools that may enhance mechanistic insights into epileptogenesis and associated comorbidities, are better‐developed for mice. Therefore, we aimed to determine if eFSE could be generated in mice and if it provoked enduring changes in hippocampal‐network excitability and the development of spontaneous seizures.

Methods

We employed C57BL/6J male mice, the strain used most commonly in transgenic manipulations, and examined if early life eFSE could be sustained and if it led to hyperexcitability of hippocampal networks and to epilepsy. Outcome measures included vulnerability to the subsequent administration of the limbic convulsant kainic acid (KA) and the development of spontaneous seizures. In the first mouse cohort, adult naive and eFSE‐experiencing mice were exposed to KA. A second cohort of control and eFSE‐experiencing young adult mice was implanted with bilateral hippocampal electrodes and recorded using continuous video–electroencephalography (EEG) for 2 to 3 months to examine for spontaneous seizures (epileptogenesis).

Results

Induction of eFSE was feasible and eFSE increased the susceptibility of adult C57BL/6J mice to KA, thereby reducing latency to seizure onset and increasing seizure severity. Of 24 chronically recorded eFSE mice, 4 (16.5%) developed hippocampal epilepsy with a latent period of ~3 months, significantly different from the expectation by chance (P = .04). The limbic epilepsy that followed eFSE was progressive.

Significance

eFSE promotes pro‐epileptogenic network changes in a majority of C57BL/6J male mice and frank “temporal lobe–like” epilepsy in one sixth of the cohort. Mouse eFSE may thus provide a useful tool for investigating molecular, cellular, and circuit changes during the development of temporal lobe epilepsy and its comorbidities.

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