The pilocarpine model of epilepsy: what have we learned?

An Acad Bras Cienc. 2009 Sep;81(3):345-65. doi: 10.1590/s0001-37652009000300003.


The systemic administration of a potent muscarinic agonist pilocarpine in rats promotes sequential behavioral and electrographic changes that can be divided into 3 distinct periods: (a) an acute period that built up progressively into a limbic status epilepticus and that lasts 24 h, (b) a silent period with a progressive normalization of EEG and behavior which varies from 4 to 44 days, and (c) a chronic period with spontaneous recurrent seizures (SRSs). The main features of the SRSs observed during the long-term period resemble those of human complex partial seizures and recurs 2-3 times per week per animal. Therefore, the pilocarpine model of epilepsy is a valuable tool not only to study the pathogenesis of temporal lobe epilepsy in human condition, but also to evaluate potential antiepileptogenic drugs. This review concentrates on data from pilocarpine model of epilepsy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Death, Sudden
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / chemically induced*
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / metabolism
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / pathology
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Humans
  • Muscarinic Agonists
  • Pilocarpine
  • Rats
  • Status Epilepticus / chemically induced
  • Status Epilepticus / metabolism
  • Status Epilepticus / pathology
  • Status Epilepticus / physiopathology
  • Time Factors


  • Muscarinic Agonists
  • Pilocarpine