Validation of a method for localised microinjection of drugs into thalamic subregions in rats for epilepsy pharmacological studies

Rink Jan Lohman, Lige Liu, Margaret Morris, Terence J. O'Brien

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Objectives: To validate a method for the chronic implantation of micro-cannulae to examine the effect of drug administration to two small brain regions critical to the control of generalised seizures, the reticular nucleus of the thalamus (Rt) and the ventrobasal thalamus (VB), in a genetically epileptic rat model. Method: Micro-cannulae guides (length 9 mm, 26 G, i.d. 0.24 mm, o.d. 0.46 mm) were implanted bilaterally into either the Rt or the VB of 11- to 13-week-old Genetic Absence Epilepsy Rats from Strasbourg (GAERS) using a stereotaxic head frame. After a seven-day recovery period the animals were injected with 0.2 μl of methylene blue. The animals were allowed to move freely in their cages for a further 90 min while a post-drug EEG recording was acquired and then brains were perfused with 4% paraformaldehyde and extracted. Twenty-micrometer slices were cut on a cryostat and the site and extent of the methylene blue staining in the brain determined. The implantation co-ordinates were adjusted accordingly, and then a validation study was performed on a further cohort of rats (n = 8 Rt, n = 7 VB). Results: The co-ordinates that were found to most accurately localise the Rt were: AP -3 mm, ML 3.6 mm, DV -5.8 mm (relative to Bregma). Those that accurately localised the VB were: AP -3 mm, ML 2.6 mm, DV -5.5 mm. In the validation study, the dye staining was measured to diffuse an average radius of 520 ± 120 μm from the centre of the injection site for the 0.2 μl injection in both brain hemispheres. For the VB injections the dye remained confined within the structure, however, for the smaller Rt there was spread to surrounding structures in the axial plane. The radial diffusion for the 0.5 μl injection was similar, but more of the dye was found to spread back up the cannula tract away from the target zone. Conclusion: These studies have validated a method for accurate and localised injection of drugs into the VB and Rt for neuropharmacological studies in a rat model of generalised epilepsy. This method allows the measurement of localised drug effects on EEG and generalised seizure activity at these sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-197
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Cannula
  • Drug diffusion
  • Epilepsy
  • Generalised epilepsy
  • Intraparenchymal
  • Localised
  • Micro-injection
  • Neuropharmacological
  • Nucleus reticular thalamus
  • Rt
  • Validation
  • VB
  • Ventrobasal thalamus

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