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Dexamethasone attenuates hyperexcitability provoked by experimental febrile status epilepticus


The role of neuroinflammation in the mechanisms of epilepsy development is important because inflammatory mediators provide tractable targets for intervention. Inflammation is intrinsically involved in the generation of childhood febrile seizures (FSs), and prolonged FS [febrile status epilepticus (FSE)] precedes a large proportion of adult cases of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). As TLE is often refractory to therapy and is associated with serious cognitive and emotional problems, we investigated whether its development can be prevented using anti-inflammatory strategies. Using an immature rat model of FSE [experimental FSE (eFSE)], we administered dexamethasone (DEX), a broad anti-inflammatory agent, over 3 d following eFSE. We assessed eFSE-provoked hippocampal network hyperexcitability by quantifying the presence, frequency, and duration of hippocampal spike series, as these precede and herald the development of TLE-like epilepsy. We tested whether eFSE provoked hippocampal microgliosis, astrocytosis, and proinflammatory cytokine production in male and female rats and investigated blood-brain barrier (BBB) breaches as a potential contributor. We then evaluated whether DEX attenuated these eFSE sequelae. Spike series were not observed in control rats given vehicle or DEX, but occurred in 41.6% of eFSE-vehicle rats, associated with BBB leakage and elevated hippocampal cytokines. eFSE did not induce astrocytosis or microgliosis but provoked BBB disruption in 60% of animals. DEX significantly reduced spike series prevalence (to 7.6%) and frequency, and abrogated eFSE-induced cytokine production and BBB leakage (to 20%). These findings suggest that a short, postinsult intervention with a clinically available anti-inflammatory agent potently attenuates epilepsy-predicting hippocampal hyperexcitability, potentially by minimizing BBB disruption and related neuroinflammation.

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