Seizures are very common in the early periods of life and are often associated with poor neurologic outcome in humans. Animal studies have provided evidence that early life seizures may disrupt neuronal differentiation and connectivity, signaling pathways, and the function of various neuronal networks. There is growing experimental evidence that many signaling pathways, like GABAA receptor signaling, the cellular physiology and differentiation, or the functional maturation of certain brain regions, including those involved in seizure control, mature differently in males and females. However, most experimental studies of early life seizures have not directly investigated the importance of sex on the consequences of early life seizures. The sexual dimorphism of the developing brain raises the question that early seizures could have distinct effects in immature females and males that are subjected to seizures. We will first discuss the evidence for sex-specific features of the developing brain that could be involved in modifying the susceptibility and consequences of early life seizures. We will then review how sex-related biological factors could modify the age-specific consequences of induced seizures in the immature animals. These include signaling pathways (e.g., GABAA receptors), steroid hormones, growth factors. Overall, there are very few studies that have specifically addressed seizure outcomes in developing animals as a function of sex. The available literature indicates that a variety of outcomes (histopathological, behavioral, molecular, epileptogenesis) may be affected in a sex-, age-, region-specific manner after seizures during development. Obtaining a better understanding for the gender-related mechanisms underlying epileptogenesis and seizure comorbidities will be necessary to develop better gender and age appropriate therapies.
Keywords: Animal models; Development; Early life seizures; Epilepsy; GABA; Hippocampus; Sex differences; Status epilepticus; Substantia nigra.
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