Prenatal transport stress, postnatal maternal behavior, and offspring sex differentially affect seizure susceptibility in young rats

Chikako Moriyama, Michael A. Galic, Richelle Mychasiuk, Quentin J. Pittman, Tara S. Perrot, R. William Currie, Michael J. Esser

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Epilepsy is a heterogeneous and chronic neurological condition of undefined etiology in the majority of cases. Similarly, the pathogenesis of the unprovoked seizures that lead to epilepsy is not known. We are interested in the factors that modify inherent seizure susceptibility, with a particular focus on those occurring during the prenatal and early postnatal periods. Female Sprague-Dawley rats were bred in-house or transported during pregnancy at one of two gestational days (G9 or G16). The effects of transport stress, maternal behavior, and offspring sex were then examined in terms of how they were related to provoked seizure susceptibility to kainic acid (KA) or a model of febrile convulsions (FCs) on postnatal day 14 (P14). We also examined the pattern of neuronal activation in the hippocampus and amygdala as indicated by the density of FosB protein immunoreactivity (FosB-ir). Results demonstrated only a small and inconsistent effect of transport alone, suggesting that the groups differed slightly prior to experimental manipulations. However, the influence of maternal behaviors such as licking and grooming (LG), arched back nursing (ABN), and dam-off time (DO) exerted a much stronger effect on the offspring. Dams designated as high LG gave birth to smaller litters, had pups that weighed less, had greater seizure susceptibility and severity, and had more FosB-ir neurons predominantly in the ventral hippocampus and the medial subnucleus of the amygdala (MeA). We also found a sex-dependent effect such that P14 males were smaller than their female littermates and had a greater seizure susceptibility and severity. Taken together, these results suggest an impact of prenatal and postnatal factors, as well as sex, on seizure susceptibility in young animals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-27
Number of pages9
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2013


  • Developmental
  • Febrile seizures
  • FosB
  • Maternal care
  • Prenatal stress

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