An Optogenetic Kindling Model of Neocortical Epilepsy

Sci Rep. 2019 Mar 27;9(1):5236. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-41533-2.


Epileptogenesis is the gradual process by which the healthy brain develops epilepsy. However, the neuronal circuit changes that underlie epileptogenesis are not well understood. Unfortunately, current chemically or electrically induced epilepsy models suffer from lack of cell specificity, so it is seldom known which cells were activated during epileptogenesis. We therefore sought to develop an optogenetic variant of the classical kindling model of epilepsy in which activatable cells are both genetically defined and fluorescently tagged. We briefly optogenetically activated pyramidal cells (PCs) in awake behaving mice every two days and conducted a series of experiments to validate the effectiveness of the model. Although initially inert, brief optogenetic stimuli eventually elicited seizures that increased in number and severity with additional stimulation sessions. Seizures were associated with long-lasting plasticity, but not with tissue damage or astrocyte reactivity. Once optokindled, mice retained an elevated seizure susceptibility for several weeks in the absence of additional stimulation, indicating a form of long-term sensitization. We conclude that optokindling shares many features with classical kindling, with the added benefit that the role of specific neuronal populations in epileptogenesis can be studied. Links between long-term plasticity and epilepsy can thus be elucidated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy / genetics*
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology*
  • Kindling, Neurologic / genetics*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neocortex / physiopathology*
  • Optogenetics*