Purpose: Mossy fiber sprouting is a common abnormality found in patients and models of temporal lobe epilepsy. The role of mossy fiber sprouting in epileptogenesis is unclear, and its blockade would be useful experimentally and perhaps therapeutically. Results from previous attempts to block mossy fiber sprouting have been disappointing or controversial. In some brain regions, prolonged application of the sodium channel blocker tetrodotoxin prevents axon sprouting and posttrauma epileptogenesis. The present study tested the hypothesis that prolonged, focal infusion of tetrodotoxin would block mossy fiber sprouting after an epileptogenic treatment.
Methods: Adult rats were treated with pilocarpine to induce status epilepticus. Several hours to 3 days after pilocarpine treatment, a pump with a cannula directed toward the dentate gyrus was implanted to deliver 10 microM tetrodotoxin or vehicle alone at 0.25 microl/h. This method blocks local EEG activity in the hippocampus (Galvan et al. J Neurosci 2000; 20:2904-16). After 28 days of continuous infusion, rats were perfused with fixative, and their hippocampi analyzed anatomically with stereologic techniques.
Results: Tetrodotoxin infusion was verified immunocytochemically in tetrodotoxin-treated but not vehicle-treated hippocampi. Tetrodotoxin-infused and vehicle-infused hippocampi displayed similar levels of hilar neuron loss. The Timm stain revealed mossy fiber sprouting regardless of whether hippocampi were treated with tetrodotoxin infusion, vehicle infusion, or neither.
Conclusions: Prolonged infusion of tetrodotoxin did not block mossy fiber sprouting. This finding suggests that sodium channel-mediated neuronal activity is not necessary for mossy fiber sprouting after an epileptogenic treatment.