Epilepsy or epileptic syndromes affect more than 70 million people, often comorbid with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Seizures are concerned as a factor for social regression in ASD. A stepwise experimental approach to this problem requires an animal model to provoke seizures and monitor subsequent behavior. We used rats of the Krushinsky-Molodkina (KM) strain as a validated inbred genetic model for human temporal lobe epilepsy, with recently described social deficiency and hypolocomotion. Generalized tonic-clonic seizures in KM rats are sound-triggered, thus being controlled events in drug-naïve animals. We studied whether seizure experience would aggravate contact deficits in these animals. Locomotor and contact parameters were registered in "the elevated plus maze", "socially enriched open field", and "social novelty/social preference tests" before and after sound-provoked seizures. The triple seizure provocations minimally affected the contact behavior. The lack of social drive in KM rats was not accompanied by a submissive phenotype, as tested in "the tube dominance test", but featured with a poor contact repertoire. Here, we confirmed our previous findings on social deficits in KM rats. The contact deficiency was dissociated from hypolocomotion and anxiety and did not correlate with seizure experience. It was established that experience of rare, generalized tonic-clonic convulsions did not lead to an impending regress in contact motivation, as seen in an animal model of genetic epilepsy and comorbid social deficiency. One of the oldest animal models for epilepsy has a translational potential to study mechanisms of social behavioral deficits in future neurophysiological and pharmacological research.
Keywords: KM rats; Wistar rats; animal models; anxiety; autism spectrum disorder; autistic disorder; epilepsy; motivation; phenotype; seizures.