Increased pCREB expression and the spontaneous epileptiform activity in a BCNU-treated rat model of cortical dysplasia

Paolo Pennacchio, Francesco Noé, Vadym Gnatkovsky, Ramona Frida Moroni, Ileana Zucca, Maria Cristina Regondi, Francesca Inverardi, Marco De Curtis, Carolina Frassoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Summary Objective Cortical dysplasias (CDs) represent a wide range of cortical abnormalities that closely correlate with intractable epilepsy. Rats prenatally exposed to 1-3-bis-chloroethyl-nitrosurea (BCNU) represent an injury-based model that reproduces many histopathologic features of human CD. Previous studies reported in vivo hyperexcitability in this model, but in vivo epileptogenicity has not been confirmed. Methods To determine whether cortical and hippocampal lesions lead to epileptiform discharges and/or seizures in the BCNU model, rats at three different ages (3, 5, and 9 months old) were implanted for long-term video electroencephalographic recording. At the end of the recording session, brain tissue was processed for histologic and immunohistochemical investigation including cAMP response element binding protein (CREB) phosphorylation, as a biomarker of epileptogenicity. Results BCNU-treated rats showed spontaneous epileptiform activity (67%) in the absence of a second seizure-provoking hit. Such activity originated mainly from one hippocampus and propagated to the ipsilateral neocortex. No epileptiform activity was found in age-matched control rats. The histopathologic investigation revealed that all BCNU rats with epileptiform activity showed neocortical and hippocampal abnormalities; the presence and the severity of these lesions did not correlate consistently with the propensity to generate epileptiform discharges. Epileptiform activity was found only in cortical areas of BCNU-treated rats in which a correlation between brain abnormalities and increased pCREB expression was observed. Significance This study demonstrates the in vivo occurrence of spontaneous epileptiform discharges in the BCNU model and shows that increased pCREB expression can be utilized as a reliable biomarker of epileptogenicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1343-1354
Number of pages12
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2015


  • BCNU
  • Cortical dysplasia
  • CREB phosphorylation
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy
  • Immunohistochemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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