Infantile Spasms: A Critical Review of Emerging Animal Models

Authors


Address correspondence to: Carl E. Stafstrom, MD, PhD, Department of Neurology, H6-528, University of Wisconsin, 600 Highland Avenue Madison, WI 53792. E-mail: stafstrom@neurology.wisc.edu

Abstract

Infantile spasms is a developmental epilepsy syndrome with unique clinical and EEG features, a specific pattern of pharmacological responsiveness, and poor outcome in terms of cognition and epilepsy. Despite the devastating nature of infantile spasms, little is known about its pathogenesis. Until recently, there has been no animal model available to investigate the pathophysiology of the syndrome or to generate and test novel therapies. Now, several promising animal models have emerged, spanning the etiological spectrum from genetic causes (e.g., Down syndrome or Aristaless-related homeobox [ARX] mutation) to acquired causes (e.g., endogenous and exogenous toxins or stress hormones with convulsant activity or blockade of neural activity). These new models are discussed in this review, with emphasis on the insights each can provide for understanding, treating, and preventing infantile spasms.

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