Objective: Dravet Syndrome (DS) is a catastrophic form of paediatric epilepsy associated with multiple comorbidities mainly caused by mutations in the SCN1A gene. DS progresses in three different phases termed febrile, worsening and stabilization stage. Mice that are haploinsufficient for Scn1a faithfully model each stage of DS, although various aspects have not been fully described, including the temporal appearance and sex differences of the epilepsy and comorbidities. The aim of the present study was to investigate the epilepsy landscape according to the progression of DS and the long-term co-morbidities in the Scn1a(+/-)tm1Kea DS mouse line that are not fully understood yet.
Methods: Male and female F1.Scn1a(+/+) and F1.Scn1a(+/-)tm1Kea mice were assessed in the hyperthermia model or monitored by video electroencephalogram (vEEG) and wireless video-EEG according to the respective stage of DS. Long-term comorbidities were investigated through a battery of behaviour assessments in ~6 month-old mice.
Results: At P18, F1.Scn1a(+/-)tm1Kea mice showed the expected sensitivity to hyperthermia-induced seizures. Between P21 and P28, EEG recordings in F1.Scn1a(+/-)tm1Kea mice combined with video monitoring revealed a high frequency of SRS and SUDEP (sudden unexpected death in epilepsy). Power spectral analyses of background EEG activity also revealed that low EEG power in multiple frequency bands was associated with SUDEP risk in F1.Scn1a(+/-)tm1Kea mice during the worsening stage of DS. Later, SRS and SUDEP rates stabilized and then declined in F1.Scn1a(+/-)tm1kea mice. Incidence of SRS ending with death in F1.Scn1a(+/-)tm1kea mice displayed variations with the time of day and sex, with female mice displaying higher numbers of severe seizures resulting in greater SUDEP risk. F1.Scn1a(+/-)tm1kea mice ~6 month-old displayed fewer behavioural impairments than expected including hyperactivity, impaired exploratory behaviour and poor nest building performance.
Significance: These results reveal new features of this model that will optimize use and selection of phenotype assays for future studies on the mechanisms, diagnosis, and treatment of DS.
Keywords: Dravet syndrome; Febrile seizures; Long-term comorbidities; SCN1A; SUDEP.
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