• Phenobarbital;
  • Seizures;
  • Anxiety;
  • Depression;
  • Psychosis;
  • Impaired learning


Purpose: Patients with intractable temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) exhibit an increased risk of psychiatric comorbidity, including depression, anxiety, psychosis, and learning disorders. Furthermore, a history of psychiatric comorbidity has been suggested as a predictor of lack of response to therapy with antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) in patients with epilepsy. However, clinical studies on predictors of pharmacoresistant epilepsy are affected by several confounding variables, which may complicate conclusions. In the present study, we evaluated whether behavioral alterations in epileptic rats are different in AED nonresponders versus responders.

Methods: For this purpose, we used an animal model of TLE in which AED responders and nonresponders can be selected by prolonged treatment of epileptic rats with phenobarbital (PB). Behavioral and cognitive abnormalities were compared between responders and nonresponders as well as between epileptic rats and nonepileptic controls in a battery of tests.

Results: Fifteen epileptic rats with spontaneous recurrent seizures (SRS) either responding (11 rats) or not responding (4 rats) to PB were used for this study. The nonresponders differed markedly in behavioral and cognitive abnormalities from responders and nonepileptic controls in tests of anxiety (open field, elevated-plus maze test), behavioral hyperexcitability (approach-response, touch-response, pick-up tests), and learning and memory (Morris water maze).

Discussion: Our hypothesis that AED-resistant rats will show more severe behavioral and cognitive changes than AED-responsive rats was confirmed by the present experiments. The data substantiate that rodent models of TLE are useful to delineate predictors of pharmacoresistant epilepsy.