The electroconvulsive threshold (ECT) test is used commonly in the screening of anti-epileptic drugs in rodent models, but little is known about its genetic or mechanistic basis. Thresholds for minimal clonic, maximal tonic, or psychomotor (partial) seizures were determined in 16 different inbred mouse strains in two different laboratories. A wide range of thresholds was observed, suggesting that a variety of neuroexcitability alleles exist in inbred strains. Although there was generally good cross-strain correlation between the three seizure types, several outlier strains were detected, showing that genetically encoded differences can affect the ability of a particular seizure type to spread through the brain. Furthermore, the relative seizure susceptibility of a strain was comparable between the two laboratories, suggesting that despite different test sites, instrumentation, and personnel, the ECT assay is portable and that common inbred strains can often be relied upon as calibration standards. Last, the ECT paradigm was also sensitive enough to detect single locus differences, laying the groundwork for mutation screens for new neuroexcitability models.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.