Altered cardiac structure and function is related to seizure frequency in a rat model of chronic acquired temporal lobe epilepsy

Kim L. Powell, Zining Liu, Claire L. Curl, Antonia J.A. Raaijmakers, Pragati Sharma, Emma L. Braine, Flavia M. Gomes, Shobi Sivathamboo, Vaughan G. Macefield, Pablo M. Casillas-Espinosa, Nigel C. Jones, Lea M. Delbridge, Terence J. O'Brien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: This study aimed to prospectively examine cardiac structure and function in the kainic acid-induced post-status epilepticus (post-KA SE) model of chronic acquired temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), specifically to examine for changes between the pre-epileptic, early epileptogenesis and the chronic epilepsy stages. We also aimed to examine whether any changes related to the seizure frequency in individual animals. Methods: Four hours of SE was induced in 9 male Wistar rats at 10 weeks of age, with 8 saline treated matched control rats. Echocardiography was performed prior to the induction of SE, two- and 10-weeks post-SE. Two weeks of continuous video-EEG and simultaneous ECG recordings were acquired for two weeks from 11 weeks post-KA SE. The video-EEG recordings were analyzed blindly to quantify the number and severity of spontaneous seizures, and the ECG recordings analyzed for measures of heart rate variability (HRV). PicroSirius red histology was performed to assess cardiac fibrosis, and intracellular Ca2+ levels and cell contractility were measured by microfluorimetry. Results: All 9 post-KA SE rats were demonstrated to have spontaneous recurrent seizures on the two-week video-EEG recording acquired from 11 weeks SE (seizure frequency ranging from 0.3 to 10.6 seizures/day with the seizure durations from 11 to 62 s), and none of the 8 control rats. Left ventricular wall thickness was thinner, left ventricular internal dimension was shorter, and ejection fraction was significantly decreased in chronically epileptic rats, and was negatively correlated to seizure frequency in individual rats. Diastolic dysfunction was evident in chronically epileptic rats by a decrease in mitral valve deceleration time and an increase in E/E` ratio. Measures of HRV were reduced in the chronically epileptic rats, indicating abnormalities of cardiac autonomic function. Cardiac fibrosis was significantly increased in epileptic rats, positively correlated to seizure frequency, and negatively correlated to ejection fraction. The cardiac fibrosis was not a consequence of direct effect of KA toxicity, as it was not seen in the 6/10 rats from separate cohort that received similar doses of KA but did not go into SE. Cardiomyocyte length, width, volume, and rate of cell lengthening and shortening were significantly reduced in epileptic rats. Significance: The results from this study demonstrate that chronic epilepsy in the post-KA SE rat model of TLE is associated with a progressive deterioration in cardiac structure and function, with a restrictive cardiomyopathy associated with myocardial fibrosis. Positive correlations between seizure frequency and the severity of the cardiac changes were identified. These results provide new insights into the pathophysiology of cardiac disease in chronic epilepsy, and may have relevance for the heterogeneous mechanisms that place these people at risk of sudden unexplained death.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105505
Number of pages13
JournalNeurobiology of Disease
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • Cardiac dysfunction
  • Cardiac fibrosis
  • Echocardiography
  • Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy
  • Temporal lobe epilepsy

Cite this