Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Medical Doctor (MD)

First Advisor

Hal Blumenfeld, M.D., Ph.D.


Epilepsy accounts for 0.5% of the global burden of disease, and primary prevention of epilepsy represents one of the three 2007 NINDS Epilepsy Research Benchmarks. Efforts to understand and intervene in the process of epileptogenesis have yielded fruitful preventative strategies in animal models. This article reviews the current understanding of epileptogenesis, introduces the concept of a "critical period" for epileptogenesis, and examines strategies for epilepsy prevention in animal models of both acquired and genetic epilepsies. As proof of principle, we investigated whether early preventative treatment during epileptogenesis in the WAG/Rij rat model of primary generalized epilepsy would persistently suppress the epilepsy phenotype in adulthood. Oral ethosuximide was given from age p21 to 5 months, covering the established period for epileptogenesis in this model. We then assessed the epilepsy phenotype by performing electroencephpalogram (EEG) recordings at serial time points after treatment cessation and by immunocytochemically measuring the cortical expression of ion channels Nav1.1, Nav1.6, and HCN1, which are dysregulated in epileptic WAG/Rij rats. Treatment both persistently suppressed seizures, even up to 3 months after treatment cessation, and blocked ion channel dysregulation. These findings indicated that treatment during epileptogenesis prevented the development of the epileptic phenotype. Subsequently, we investigated the C3H/HeJ mouse model of genetic epilepsy as a candidate for future studies in preventative treatment during epileptogenesis. Serial EEG recordings were performed from p5 to 3 months of age. We found that C3H/HeJ mice underwent three distinct, stereotyped phases of seizure development, which suggests that this model would be an appropriate candidate for future research on prevention of epileptogenesis.


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