Background: Uncovering the molecular mechanisms involved in epileptogenesis is critical to better understand the physiopathology of epilepsies and to help develop new therapeutic strategies for this prevalent and severe neurological condition that affects millions of people worldwide.
Results: Changes in the transcriptome of hippocampal cells from rats subjected to the pilocarpine model of epilepsy were evaluated by microarrays covering 34,000 transcripts representing all annotated rat genes to date. Using such genome-wide approach, differential expression of nearly 1,400 genes was detected during the course of epileptogenesis, from the early events post status epilepticus (SE) to the onset of recurrent spontaneous seizures. Most of these genes are novel and displayed an up-regulation after SE. Noteworthy, a group of 128 genes was found consistently hyper-expressed throughout epileptogenesis, indicating stable modulation of the p38MAPK, Jak-STAT, PI3K, and mTOR signaling pathways. In particular, up-regulation of genes from the TGF-beta and IGF-1 signaling pathways, with opposite effects on neurogenesis, correlate with the physiopathological changes reported in humans.
Conclusions: A consistent regulation of genes functioning in intracellular signal transduction regulating neurogenesis have been identified during epileptogenesis, some of which with parallel expression patterns reported in patients with epilepsy, strengthening the link between these processes and development of epilepsy. These findings reveal dynamic molecular changes occurring in the hippocampus that may serve as a starting point for designing alternative therapeutic strategies to prevent the development of epilepsy after acquired brain insults.