Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects an estimated 50 million people,
nearly one-third of whom do not have sufficient control over its symptoms. It is
characterized by the onset of hypersynchronous neuronal activity known as
seizures. The Netoff lab is focused on understanding the dynamics of epilepsy at
the cellular and neural network levels. Our project focuses on how certain antiepileptic
drugs alter the connections between neurons to prevent seizures. In this
project, we performed extracellular recordings in rat hippocampal brain slices
using a microscope and micropipette electrode setup. The brain slices rested in
low-magnesium artificial cerebrospinal fluid containing 4-aminopyridine, a
potassium ion channel blocker that causes seizures. Once seizures began, we
introduced the anti-epileptic drug ethosuximide to the fluid and observed the effect
on the seizures. We have seen that the amplitude of the seizure activity is much
lower overall after the drug is applied. Often the drug also reduces the length
and/or frequency of the seizures. When we stop adding the drug, the original
seizures resume, creating a “wash-out” effect as the drug is no longer present. If
we can discover the precise cause of seizure onset and the mechanisms by which
anti-epileptic drugs affect it, we can develop more effective treatments for epileptic
This research was supported by the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP).
Podritz, Courney; Rodenkirch, Rebecca.
The Effect of Anti-Epileptic Drugs on 4- AP Induced Seizures in Rat Brain Slices.
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