Seizure-Induced Axonal Sprouting: Assessing Connections Between Injury, Local Circuits, and Epileptogenesis


Address correspondence to T. Sutula, M. D., Ph. D., Department of Neurology, H6/570, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53792. E-mail:


Neurons and neural circuits undergo extensive structural and functional remodeling in response to seizures. Sprouting of axons in the mossy fiber pathway of the hippocampus is a prominent example of a seizure-induced structural alteration which has received particular attention because it is easily detected, is induced by intense or repeated brief seizures in focal chronic models of epilepsy, and is also observed in the human epileptic hippocampus. During the last decade the association of mossy fiber sprouting with seizures and epilepsy has been firmly established. Many anatomical features of mossy fiber sprouting have been described in considerable detail, and there is evidence that sprouting occurs in a variety of other pathways in association with seizures and injury. There is uncertainty, however, about how or when mossy fiber sprouting may contribute to hippocampal dysfunction and generation of seizures. Study of mossy fiber sprouting has provided a strong theoretical and conceptual framework for efforts to understand how seizures and injury may contribute to epileptogenesis and its consequences. It is likely that investigation of mossy fiber sprouting will continure to offer significant opportunities for insights into seizure-induced plasticity of neural circuits at molecular, cellular, and systems levels.