New insights from the use of pilocarpine and kainate models

Epilepsy Res. 2002 Jun;50(1-2):93-103. doi: 10.1016/s0920-1211(02)00072-4.


Local or systemic administration of pilocarpine and kainate in rodents leads to a pattern of repetitive limbic seizures and status epilepticus, which can last for several hours. A latent period follows status epilepticus and precedes a chronic phase, which is characterized by the occurrence of spontaneous limbic seizures. These distinct features, in a single animal preparation, of an acute damage induced by status epilepticus, a silent interval between injury and the onset of spontaneous seizures, and a chronic epileptic state have allowed antiepileptic drug (AED) studies with different purposes, (a) in the acute phase, identification of compounds with efficacy against refractory status epilepticus and/or neuroprotection against damage induced by sustained seizures; (b) in the latent period, identification of agents with a potential for preventing epileptogenesis and/or against seizure-induced long-term behavioral deficits and (c) in the chronic phase, testing drugs effective against partial and secondarily generalized seizures. Studies on pilocarpine and kainate models have pointed out that some AEDs or other compounds exert an antiepileptogenic effect. The analogy of the latent phase of pilocarpine and kainate models with the acquisition of amygdala kindling should encourage testing of drugs that have proved to suppress the evolution of amygdala kindling. Drug testing in the chronic phase should not address only the suppression of secondarily generalized motor seizures. Most of current tools used to quantify spontaneous seizure events need to be coupled to electrophysiology and more sophisticated systems for recording and analyzing behavior.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Convulsants / pharmacology*
  • Electroencephalography / drug effects
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Kainic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Muscarinic Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Pilocarpine / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Seizures / chemically induced*
  • Seizures / physiopathology
  • Seizures / psychology
  • Status Epilepticus / chemically induced
  • Status Epilepticus / psychology


  • Convulsants
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists
  • Muscarinic Agonists
  • Pilocarpine
  • Kainic Acid