• Brainstem seizure;
  • Forebrain seizure;
  • Kindling;
  • Phenytoin

Summary: Purpose: Although sound-induced (audiogenic) seizures in the genetically epilepsy-prone rat (GEPR) initially occur independent of the forebrain, repeated audiogenic seizures recruit forebrain seizure circuits in a process referred to as audiogenic kindling. In GEPR-3s, audiogenic kindling results in facial and forelimb (F&F) clonic seizures that are typical of forebrain seizures. However, in GEPR-9s, audiogenic kindling produces posttonic all-limb clonus not usually observed during forebrain seizures. We hypothesized that the more severe brainstem seizures of the GEPR-9 prevent the expression of F&F clonic seizures during audiogenic kindling. Therefore attenuation of audiogenic seizures during audiogenic kindling in GEPR-9s should allow F&F clonic seizures to be expressed. Likewise, intensifying audiogenic seizure severity in GEPR-3s should inhibit audiogenically kindled F&F clonic seizures. We have tested this hypothesis in the present study.

Methods: Lesions of the superior colliculus or treatment with low-dose phenytoin were used to suppress audiogenic seizure severity in GEPR-9s. Depletion of brain serotonin was used to increase the seizure severity in GEPR-3s. All GEPRs were then subjected to audiogenic kindling. Behavioral and electrographic seizures were assessed.

Results: Suppression of audiogenic seizure severity during audiogenic kindling in GEPR-9s increased the incidence forebrain seizure behavior. Kindled GEPR-9s that continued to display full tonic seizures did not exhibit forebrain convulsions, but did show posttonic clonus and forebrain seizure activity in the EEG. GEPR-3s chronically depleted of brain serotonin, along with displaying tonic brainstem seizures, tended to display less severe forebrain seizures during audiogenic kindling.

Conclusions: These findings support the concept that severe brainstem seizures prevent the behavioral expression of forebrain seizures in audiogenically kindled GEPR-9s. It appears that the severe brainstem seizure of the GEPR-9 does not allow the forebrain seizure to manifest its typical behavioral concomitants despite electrographic evidence that spike–wave discharge is occurring in the forebrain.