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Keywords:

  • Epilepsy;
  • epileptogenesis;
  • fever;
  • hippocampus;
  • hyperthermia

Febrile seizures (FS) are the most prevalent seizures in children. Although FS are largely benign, complex FS increase the risk to develop temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). Studies in rat models for FS have provided information about functional changes in the hippocampus after complex FS. However, our knowledge about the genes and pathways involved in the causes and consequences of FS is still limited. To enable molecular, genetic and knockout studies, we developed and characterized an FS model in mice and used it as a phenotypic screen to analyze FS susceptibility. Hyperthermia was induced by warm air in 10- to 14-day-old mice and induced FS in all animals. Under the conditions used, seizure-induced behavior in mice and rats was similar. In adulthood, treated mice showed increased hippocampal Ih current and seizure susceptibility, characteristics also seen after FS in rats. Of the seven genetically diverse mouse strains screened for FS susceptibility, C57BL/6J mice were among the most susceptible, whereas A/J mice were among the most resistant. Strains genetically similar to C57BL/6J also showed a susceptible phenotype. Our phenotypic data suggest that complex genetics underlie FS susceptibility and show that the C57BL/6J strain is highly susceptible to FS. As this strain has been described as resistant to convulsants, our data indicate that susceptibility genes for FS and convulsants are distinct. Insight into the mechanisms underlying seizure susceptibility and FS may help to identify markers for the early diagnosis of children at risk for complex FS and TLE and may provide new leads for treatment.