Neuromodulation with levetiracetam and vagus nerve stimulation in experimental animal models of epilepsy
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder consisting of recurrent seizures, resulting from excessive, uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain. Epilepsy treatment is successful in the majority of the cases ; however, still one third of the epilepsy patients are refractory to treatment. Besides the ongoing research on the efficacy of anti-epileptic treatments in suppressing seizures (anti-seizure effect), we want to seek for therapies that can lead to plastic, neuromodulatory changes in the epileptic network. Neuropharmacological therapy with levetiracetam (LEV) and vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) are two novel treatments for refractory epilepsy. LEV acts rapidly on seizures in both animal models and humans. In addition, preclinical studies suggest that LEV may have anti-epileptogenic and neuroprotective effects, with the potential to slow or arrest disease progression. VNS as well can have an immediate effect on seizures in epilepsy models and patients with, in addition, a cumulative effect after prolonged treatment. Studies in man are hampered by the heterogeneity of patient populations and the difficulty to study therapy-related effects in a systematic way. Therefore, investigation was performed utilizing two rodent models mimicking epilepsy in humans. Genetic absence epilepsy rats from Strasbourg (GAERS) have inborn absence epilepsy and Fast rats have a genetically determined sensitivity for electrical amygdala kindling, which is an excellent model of temporal lobe epilepsy. Our findings support the hypothesis that treatment with LEV and VNS can be considered as neuromodulatory : changes are induced in central nervous system function or organization as a result of influencing and initiating neurophysiological signals.