The random nature of seizures poses difficult challenges for epilepsy research. There is great need for a reliable method to control the pathway to seizure onset, which would allow investigation of the mechanisms of ictogenesis and optimization of treatments. Our hypothesis is that increased random afferent synaptic activity (i.e. synaptic noise) within the epileptic focus is one endogenous method of ictogenesis. Building upon previous theoretical and in vitro work showing that synaptic noise can induce seizures, we developed a novel in vivo model of ictogenesis. By increasing the excitability of afferent connections to the hippocampus, we control the risk of temporal lobe seizures during a specific time period. The afferent synaptic activity in the hippocampus was modulated by focal microinjections of potassium chloride into the nucleus reuniens, during which the risk of seizure occurrence increased substantially. The induced seizures were qualitatively and quantitatively indistinguishable from spontaneous ones. This model thus allows direct control of the temporal lobe seizure threshold via endogenous pathways, providing a novel tool in which to investigate the mechanisms and biomarkers of ictogenesis, test for seizure threshold, and rapidly tune antiseizure treatments.
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