A 5-Month Period of Epilepsy Impairs Spatial Memory, Decreases Anxiety, but Spares Object Recognition in the Lithium-pilocarpine Model in Adult Rats


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. J. Detour at INSERM U666, Clinique Psychiatrique, Hôpitaux Universitaires, 1 place de l'hôpital, BP426, 67091 Strasbourg Cedex, France. E-mail: Julien.Detour@chru-strasbourg.fr


Summary: Purpose: In temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), interictal behavioral disorders affect patients' quality of life. Therefore we studied long-term behavioral impairments in the lithium-pilocarpine (li-pilo) model of TLE.

Methods: Eleven li-pilo adult rats exhibiting spontaneous recurrent seizures (SRSs) during 5 months were compared with 11 li-saline rats. Spatial working memory was tested in a radial arm maze (RAM), anxiety in an elevated plus-maze (EPM), and nonspatial working memory in an object-recognition paradigm. Neuronal loss was assessed on thionine brain sections after behavioral testing.

Results: In the RAM, the time to complete each session and the number of errors per session decreased over a 5-day period in li-saline rats but remained constant and significantly higher in li-pilo rats. In the EPM, the number of entries in and time spent on open arms were significantly higher in li-pilo than li-saline rats. In the object-recognition task, the two groups exhibited a comparable novelty preference for the new object. Neuronal loss reached 47–90% in hilus, CA1, amygdala, and piriform and entorhinal cortex.

Conclusions: In li-pilo rats having experienced SRS for 5 months, performance in the object-recognition task is spared, which suggests that object discrimination remains relatively intact despite extensive damage. Neuronal loss in regions mediating memory and anxiety, such as hippocampus, entorhinal cortex, and amygdala, may relate to impaired spatial orientation and decreased anxiety.