Indexed on: 01 Jul '97Published on: 01 Jul '97Published in: British Journal of Pharmacology
1. Pilocarpine administration has been used as an animal model for temporal lobe epilepsy since it produces several morphological and synaptic features in common with human complex partial seizures. Little is known about changes in extracellular neurotransmitter concentrations during the seizures provoked by pilocarpine, a non-selective muscarinic agonist. 2. Focally evoked pilocarpine-induced seizures in freely moving rats were provoked by intrahippocampal pilocarpine (10 mM for 40 min at a flow rate of 2 microl min(-1)) administration via a microdialysis probe. Concomitant changes in extracellular hippocampal glutamate, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and dopamine levels were monitored and simultaneous electrocorticography was performed. The animal model was characterized by intrahippocampal perfusion with the muscarinic receptor antagonist atropine (20 mM), the sodium channel blocker tetrodotoxin (1 microM) and the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist MK-801 (dizocilpine maleate, 100 microM). The effectiveness of locally (600 microM) or systemically (10 mg kg(-1) day(-1)) applied lamotrigine against the pilocarpine-induced convulsions was evaluated. 3. Pilocarpine initially decreased extracellular hippocampal glutamate and GABA levels. During the subsequent pilocarpine-induced limbic convulsions extracellular glutamate, GABA and dopamine concentrations in hippocampus were significantly increased. Atropine blocked all changes in extracellular transmitter levels during and after co-administration of pilocarpine. All pilocarpine-induced increases were completely prevented by simultaneous tetrodotoxin perfusion. Intrahippocampal administration of MK-801 and lamotrigine resulted in an elevation of hippocampal dopamine levels and protected the rats from the pilocarpine-induced seizures. Pilocarpine-induced convulsions developed in the rats which received lamotrigine perorally. 4. Pilocarpine-induced seizures are initiated via muscarinic receptors and further mediated via NMDA receptors. Sustained increases in extracellular glutamate levels after pilocarpine perfusion are related to the limbic seizures. These are arguments in favour of earlier described NMDA receptor-mediated excitotoxicity. Hippocampal dopamine release may be functionally important in epileptogenesis and may participate in the anticonvulsant effects of MK-801 and lamotrigine. The pilocarpine-stimulated hippocampal GABA, glutamate and dopamine levels reflect neuronal vesicular release.