Objective: The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway has received increasing attention as a potential antiepileptogenic target. Treatment with the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin after status epilepticus reduces the development of epilepsy in a rat model. To study whether rapamycin mediates this effect via restoration of blood-brain barrier (BBB) dysfunction, contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (CE-MRI) was used to determine BBB permeability throughout epileptogenesis.
Methods: Imaging was repeatedly performed until 6 weeks after kainic acid-induced status epilepticus in rapamycin (6 mg/kg for 6 weeks starting 4 h after SE) and vehicle-treated rats, using gadobutrol as contrast agent. Seizures were detected using video monitoring in the week following the last imaging session.
Results: Gadobutrol leakage was widespread and extensive in both rapamycin and vehicle-treated epileptic rats during the acute phase, with the piriform cortex and amygdala as the most affected regions. Gadobutrol leakage was higher in rapamycin-treated rats 4 and 8 days after status epilepticus compared to vehicle-treated rats. However, during the chronic epileptic phase, gadobutrol leakage was lower in rapamycin-treated epileptic rats along with a decreased seizure frequency. This was confirmed by local fluorescein staining in the brains of the same rats. Total brain volume was reduced by this rapamycin treatment regimen.
Significance: The initial slow recovery of BBB function in rapamycin-treated epileptic rats indicates that rapamycin does not reduce seizure activity by a gradual recovery of BBB integrity. The reduced BBB leakage during the chronic phase, however, could contribute to the decreased seizure frequency in post-status epilepticus rats treated with rapamycin. Furthermore, the data show that CE-MRI (using step-down infusion with gadobutrol) can be used as biomarker for monitoring the effect of drug therapy in rats.
Keywords: Blood-brain barrier; Contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging; Epileptogenesis; Rapamycin; Status epilepticus; Temporal lobe epilepsy.
Wiley Periodicals, Inc. © 2015 International League Against Epilepsy.