June 3, 2021

Development of an Antiepileptogenesis Drug Screening Platform: Effects of Everolimus and Phenobarbital

Featuring the work of CURE Epilepsy Scientific Advisory Council member Dr. Steve White

Abstract, originally published in Epilepsia

Objective: The kainic acid (KA)-induced status epilepticus (SE) model in rats is a well-defined model of epileptogenesis. This model closely recapitulates many of the clinical and pathological characteristics of human temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) that arise following SE or another neurological insult. Spontaneous recurrent seizures (SRS) in TLE can present after a latent period following a neurological insult (traumatic brain injury, SE event, viral infection, etc.). Moreover, this model is suitable for preclinical studies to evaluate the long-term process of epileptogenesis and screen putative disease-modifying/antiepileptogenic agents. The burden of human TLE is highly variable, similar to the post-KA SE rat model. In this regard, this model may have broad translational relevance. This report thus details the pharmacological characterization and methodological refinement of a moderate-throughput drug screening program using the post-KA-induced SE model of epileptogenesis in male Sprague Dawley rats to identify potential agents that may prevent or modify the burden of SRS. Specifically, we sought to demonstrate whether our protocol could prevent the development of SRS or lead to a reduced frequency/severity of SRS.

Methods: Rats were administered either everolimus (2–3 mg/kg po) beginning 1, 2, or 24 h after SE onset, or phenobarbital (60 mg/kg ip) beginning 1 h after SE onset. All treatments were administered once/day for 5–7 days. Rats in all studies (n = 12/treatment dose/study) were then monitored intermittently by video-electroencephalography (2 weeks on, 2 weeks off, 2 weeks on epochs) to determine latency to onset of SRS and disease burden.

Results: Although no adverse side effects were observed in our studies, no treatment significantly modified disease or prevented the presentation of SRS by 6 weeks after SE onset.

Significance: Neither phenobarbital nor everolimus administered at several time points after SE onset prevented the development of SRS. Nonetheless, we demonstrate a practical and moderate-throughput screen for potential antiepileptogenic agents in a rat model of TLE.

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