Neuronal network dynamics during epileptogenesis in the medial temporal lobe

  • Tamara Modebadze

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders, a large fraction of which is resistant to pharmacotherapy. In this light, understanding the mechanisms of epilepsy and its intractable forms in particular could create new targets for pharmacotherapeutic intervention. The current project explores the dynamic changes in neuronal network function in the chronic temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) in rat and human brain in vitro. I focused on the process of establishment of epilepsy (epileptogenesis) in the temporal lobe.
Rhythmic behaviour of the hippocampal neuronal networks in healthy animals was explored using spontaneous oscillations in the gamma frequency band (SγO). The use of an improved brain slice preparation technique resulted in the natural occurence (in the absence of pharmacological stimulation) of rhythmic activity, which was then pharmacologically characterised and compared to other models of gamma oscillations (KA- and CCh-induced oscillations) using local field potential recording technique. The results showed that SγO differed from pharmacologically driven models, suggesting higher physiological relevance of SγO. Network activity was also explored in the medial entorhinal cortex (mEC), where spontaneous slow wave oscillations (SWO) were detected.
To investigate the course of chronic TLE establishment, a refined Li-pilocarpine-based model of epilepsy (RISE) was developed. The model significantly reduced animal mortality and demonstrated reduced intensity, yet high morbidy with almost 70% mean success rate of developing spontaneous recurrent seizures. We used SγO to characterize changes in the hippocampal neuronal networks throughout the epileptogenesis. The results showed that the network remained largely intact, demonstrating the subtle nature of the RISE model. Despite this, a reduction in network activity was detected during the so-called latent (no seizure) period, which was hypothesized to occur due to network fragmentation and an abnormal function of kainate receptors (KAr). We therefore explored the function of KAr by challenging SγO with kainic acid (KA). The results demonstrated a remarkable decrease in KAr response during the latent period, suggesting KAr dysfunction or altered expression, which will be further investigated using a variety of electrophysiological and immunocytochemical methods.
The entorhinal cortex, together with the hippocampus, is known to play an important role in the TLE. Considering this, we investigated neuronal network function of the mEC during epileptogenesis using SWO. The results demonstrated a striking difference in AMPAr function, with possible receptor upregulation or abnormal composition in the early development of epilepsy. Alterations in receptor function inevitably lead to changes in the network function, which may play an important role in the development of epilepsy.
Preliminary investigations were made using slices of human brain tissue taken following surgery for intratctable epilepsy. Initial results showed that oscillogenesis could be induced in human brain slices and that such network activity was pharmacologically similar to that observed in rodent brain.
Overall, our findings suggest that excitatory glutamatergic transmission is heavily involved in the process of epileptogenesis. Together with other types of receptors, KAr and AMPAr contribute to epilepsy establishment and may be the key to uncovering its mechanism.
Date of Award27 Nov 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aston University
SupervisorGavin L Woodhall (Supervisor) & Ian M Stanford (Supervisor)


  • neuronal networks
  • epileptogenesis
  • temporal lobe

Cite this