Purpose: Rapamycin (RAP) has certain antiepileptogenic features. However, it is unclear whether these effects can be explained by the anticonvulsant action of RAP, which has not been studied. To address this question, we tested potential anticonvulsant effects of RAP in immature and adult rats using different seizure models and treatment paradigms. In addition, we studied changes in the expression of neuropeptide Y (NPY) induced by RAP, which may serve as an indirect target of the RAP action.
Methods: A complex approach was adopted to evaluate the anticonvulsant potential of RAP: We used flurothyl-, pentylenetetrazole (PTZ)–, N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA)–, and kainic acid (KA)–induced seizures to test the effects of RAP using different pretreatment protocols in immature and adult rats. We also evaluated expression of NPY within the primary motor cortex, hippocampal CA1, and dentate gyrus (DG) after different pretreatments with RAP in immature rats.
Key Findings: We found the following: (1) RAP administered with short-term pretreatment paradigms has a weak anticonvulsant potential in the seizure models with compromised inhibition. (2) Lack of RAP efficacy correlates with decreased NPY expression in the cortex, CA1, and DG. Specifically in immature rats, a single dose of RAP (3 mg/kg) 4 or 24 h before seizure testing had anticonvulsant effects against PTZ-induced seizures. In the flurothyl seizure model only the 4-h pretreatment with RAP was anticonvulsant in the both age groups. Short-term pretreatments with RAP had no effects against NMDA- and KA-induced seizures tested in immature rats. Long-term pretreatments with RAP over 8 days did not show beneficial effect in all tested seizure models in developing rats. Moreover, the long-term pretreatment with RAP had a slight proconvulsant effect on KA-induced seizures. In immature rats, any lack of anticonvulsant effect (including proconvulsant effect of multiple doses of RAP) was associated with downregulation of NPY expression in the cortex and DG. In immature animals, after a single dose of RAP with 24 h delay, we found a decrease of NPY expression in DG, and CA1 as well.
Significance: Our data show weak age-, treatment paradigm-, and model-specific anticonvulsant effects of RAP as well as loss of those effects after long-term RAP pretreatment associated with downregulation of NPY expression. These findings suggest that RAP is a poor anticonvulsant and may have beneficial effects only against epileptogenesis. In addition, our data present new insights into mechanisms of RAP action on seizures indicating a possible connection between mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling and NPY system.