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Epileptic discharge of cortical, subcortical and spinal neurons in penicillin induced experimental epilepsy.

O. Mameli, F. Melis, M. A. Caria, A. Solinas, S. Mameli, P. L. De Riu


The sensitivity and electrophysiological patterns of paroxysmal activity induced in different brain structures by topical application of penicillin-G were evaluated in the rat. Recordings were carried out in five groups of animals, in telencephalon, diencephalon, mesencephalon, rombencephalon and spinal cords. The following analysis were carried out: frequency distribution histograms, latency and time course duration of paroxysmal activity, duration and amplitude of epileptic bursts. The results obtained showed that the nervous structures tested with penicillin-G had a different epileptogenic sensitivity and response pattern which significantly changed along the cerebral cortex-spinal cord axis. The highest epileptic sensitivity was observed in somatosensory cortex (SI) at 500-600 microns depth; in the other cortical layers, a significant lenghtening in latency was observed. Among the other structures, the spinal cord seemed to be the most sensitive target to the epileptogenic action of penicillin-G, whereas in the remaining structures, sensitivity significantly decreased in rostro-caudal direction. As far as the features of the paroxysmal activity are concerned, significant differences among tested structures were observed. In particular, within the SI cortex, the main differences were represented by the gradual increase in burst frequency and voltage from the surface to the IVth layer and by their subsequent decrease in deeper layers (V-VI). In the diencephalon, the paroxysmal activity was similar to that observed in more superficial and deeper cortical layers even though epileptic bursts showed a lower amplitude. Mesencephalon and rombencephalon displayed a paroxysmal activity with a distinctive feature, characterized by long lasting bursts of low amplitude, although bulbar outbursts showed a shorter duration than the mesencephalic ones. In the spinal cord, the epileptiform activity displayed a different paroxysmal pattern, characterized by the longest duration and the highest amplitude. The different sensitivities of the investigated brain structures to penicillin-G and the characteristics of the induced paroxysmal activity have been extensively discussed.

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