Damage, reorganization, and abnormal neocortical hyperexcitability in the pilocarpine model of temporal lobe epilepsy

Emilio R. Garrido Sanabria, Alexandre V. Da Silva, Roberto Spreafico, Esper A. Cavalheiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Clinical, neuropathological, and electrophysiological data have shown that limbic structures are involved in the pathogenesis of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). In most cases, limbic-originated seizures frequently spread to extrahippocampal areas. It is unclear whether such distant circuitries, especially the neocortex, exhibit abnormal electrophysiology as consequences of a chronic epileptogenic process. The present research studied neuropathological abnormalities and in vitro electrophysiological properties of sensorimotor neocortex in pilocarpine-treated epileptic rats. Methods: Adult epileptic animals showing six to seven seizures/week and saline-injected rats were selected for neurohistology. Coronal sections were sampled throughout the anteroposterior extent of the diencephalon and stained with cresyl violet (Nissl). Immunocytochemistry (ICC) was performed using anti-neurofilament (SMI-311) antibody. Extracellular (layer II/III) and intracellular (layer V) recordings were performed in coronal sensorimotor neocortical slices. Several electrophysiological aspects were examined such as evoked responses, intrinsic properties, and firing patterns of layer V pyramidal cells. Results: Nissl staining showed a significant decrease of cortical thickness in epileptic rats when compared with controls, particularly in superficial layers (II-IV). Such abnormalities were also revealed by SMI-311 staining. SMI-311-labeled dendrite arborizations were more complex in layers I-II of epileptic rats. Epileptic rats manifested several abnormalities in extracellular field responses including hyperresponsiveness and presence of α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionate (AMPA)-mediated polysynaptic activity. Although no significant changes were observed concerning passive intrinsic properties, it was possible to detect a higher proportion of bursting neurons distributed in layer V (60%) of epileptic rats compared with 22% in control slices. Conclusions: Taken together, our findings indicate damage, reorganization, and chronic hyperexcitability of sensorimotor neocortex in experimental TLE.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-106
Number of pages11
Issue numberSUPPL. 5
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Burst
  • Epilepsy
  • Immunocytochemistry
  • Neocortex
  • Pilocarpine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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