Neurogenesis and epilepsy in the developing brain


Address correspondence to Brenda E. Porter, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania, 502c Abramson Research Building, 3516 Civic Center Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19104, U.S.A. E-mail:


Multiple studies have highlighted how seizures induce different molecular, cellular, and physiologic consequences in an immature brain as compared to a mature brain. In keeping with these studies, seizures early in life alter dentate granule cell birth in different, and even opposing, fashion to adult seizure models (seeTable 1). During the first week of rodent postnatal life, seizures decrease cell birth in the postictal period, but do not alter the maturation of newborn cells. Seizures during the second week of life have varied effects on dentate granule cell birth, either causing no change or increasing birth, and may promote a mild increase in neuronal survival. During the third and fourth weeks of life, seizures begin to increase cell birth similar to that seen in adult seizure models. Interestingly, animals that experienced seizure during the first month of life have an increase in cell birth during adulthood, opposite to the reported decrease in chronic animals experiencing a prolonged seizure as an adult. Children have more ongoing cell birth in the dentate gyrus than adults, and markers of cell division are further increased in children with refractory temporal lobe epilepsy. There are clear age-dependent differences in how seizures alter cell birth in the dentate gyrus both acutely and chronically. Future studies need to focus on how these changes in neurogenesis influence dentate gyrus function and what they imply for epileptogenesis and learning and memory impairments, so commonly found in children with temporal lobe epilepsy.

Table 1.  Early seizures alter cell birth in rodent dentate gyrus
AgeSeizure modelAcute and subacute changes in cell birthChronic changes in cell birth
  1. ND, not determined.

  2. aHolmes et al., 2008; bMcCabe et al., 2001; cXiu-Yu et al., 2007; dLiu et al., 2003; eSankar et al., 2000; fBender et al., 2003; gLemmens et al., 2005; hPorter et al., 2004; iGray et al., 2002; jCha et al., 2004.

1st week of lifeFlurothylIncreased ictala and decreased postictalbND
PilocarpineDecreased postictalcIncreasedc
2nd week of lifePilocarpineIncreasedeND
HyperthermiaNo changef,gSlight increase in newborn cell survivalg (female only)
3rd –4th week of lifePilocarpineIncreasede,hIncreased in those animals that develop spontaneous seizuresj
KainateIncreasedi(similar to adults)ND