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Kindling epileptogenesis and panic-like behavior: Their bidirectional connection and contribution to epilepsy-associated depression


Anxiety is one of the most common comorbidities of epilepsy, which has major detrimental effects on the quality of life. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) associated with epilepsy has been receiving most attention. However, several other forms of anxiety reportedly present in patients with epilepsy, including panic disorder (PD). In this study, using an animal model of limbic epilepsy, we examined the interplay between epilepsy and panic-like behavior (PLB). Further, considering the high degree of comorbidity between depression on the one hand, and both epilepsy and PD on the other hand, we studied whether and how the presence of PLB in animals with epilepsy would affect their performance in depression-relevant tests. Fifty-day-old male Wistar rats were subjected to repeated alternating electrical stimulations of the basolateral amygdala (BLA) to induce kindling of limbic seizures, and the dorsal periaqueductal gray (DPAG) to induce panic-like episodes. Seizure susceptibility and panic reaction threshold were examined before the first and 24h after the last stimulation. At the end of the stimulations, the rats were examined in depression-relevant tests: saccharin preference test (SPT) for anhedonia and forced swimming test (FST) for despair/hopelessness. With regard to kindling, BLA+DPAG stimulation induced more profound increase of seizure susceptibility than BLA stimulation alone (evident as the reduction of the afterdischarge threshold and the increase of the afterdischarge duration). With regard to PLB, the BLA+DPAG stimulation exacerbated the severity of panic-like episodes, as compared with the DPAG stimulation alone. Basolateral amygdala stimulation alone had no effects on panic-like reactions, and DPAG stimulation alone did not modify kindling epileptogenesis. Combined stimulation of BLA and DPAG induced depressive-like behavioral impairments. This is the first experimental study showing bidirectional, mutually exacerbating effect of epilepsy and PLB, and the precipitation of depressive-like state by the epilepsy-PLB comorbidity.

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