Prolonged dentate granule cell discharges produce hippocampal injury and chronic epilepsy in rats. In preparing to study this epileptogenic process in genetically altered mice, we determined whether the background strain used to generate most genetically altered mice, the C57BL/6 mouse, is vulnerable to stimulation-induced seizure-induced injury. This was necessary because C57BL/6 mice are reportedly resistant to the neurotoxic effects of kainate-induced seizures, which we hypothesized to be related to strain differences in kainate's effects, rather than genetic differences in intrinsic neuronal vulnerability. Bilateral perforant pathway stimulation-induced granule cell discharge for 4 hours under urethane anesthesia produced degeneration of glutamate receptor subunit 2 (GluR2)-positive hilar mossy cells and peptide-containing interneurons in both FVB/N (kainate-vulnerable) and C57BL/6 (kainate-resistant) mice, indicating no strain differences in neuronal vulnerability to seizure activity. Granule cell discharge for 2 hours in C57BL/6 mice destroyed most GluR2-positive dentate hilar mossy cells, but not peptide-containing hilar interneurons, indicating that mossy cells are the neurons most vulnerable to this insult. Stimulation for 24 hours caused extensive hippocampal neuron loss and injury to the septum and entorhinal cortex, but no other detectable damage. Mice stimulated for 24 hours developed hippocampal sclerosis, granule cell mossy fiber sprouting, and chronic epilepsy, but not the granule cell layer hypertrophy (granule cell dispersion) produced by intrahippocampal kainate. These results demonstrate that perforant pathway stimulation in mice reliably reproduces the defining features of human mesial temporal lobe epilepsy with hippocampal sclerosis. Experimental studies in transgenic or knockout mice are feasible if electrical stimulation is used to produce controlled epileptogenic insults.
Copyright 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.