Cortical malformations and epilepsy: new insights from animal models

Epilepsia. 1999 Jul;40(7):811-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1157.1999.tb00786.x.


In the last decade, the recognition of the high frequency of cortical malformations among patients with epilepsy especially children, has led to a renewed interest in the study of the pathophysiology of cortical development. This field has also been spurred by the recent development of several experimental genetic and non-genetic, primarily rodent, models of cortical malformations. Epileptiform activity in these animals can appear as spontaneous seizure activity in vivo, in vitro hyperexcitability, or reduced seizure susceptibility in vitro and in vivo. In the neonatal freeze lesion model, that mimics human microgyria, hyperexcitability is caused by a reorganization of the network in the borders of the malformation. In the prenatal methylazoxymethanol model, that causes a diffuse cortical malformation, hyperexcitability is associated with alteration of firing properties of discrete neuronal subpopulations together with the formation of bridges between normally unconnected structures. In agreement with clinical evidence, these experimental data suggest that cortical malformations can both form epileptogenic foci and alter brain development in a manner that causes a diffuse hyperexcitability of the cortical network.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Drug-Induced / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / abnormalities*
  • Cerebral Cortex / growth & development
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Epilepsy / etiology*
  • Epilepsy / genetics
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology
  • Hippocampus / growth & development
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Methylazoxymethanol Acetate / analogs & derivatives
  • Methylazoxymethanol Acetate / pharmacology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mitosis / drug effects
  • Mutation
  • Nervous System Malformations / genetics
  • Nervous System Malformations / physiopathology
  • Neural Conduction
  • Neural Pathways / abnormalities
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Mutant Strains
  • Teratogens / pharmacology


  • Teratogens
  • Methylazoxymethanol Acetate
  • methylazoxymethanol