AUTHORS: Sheybani L, Birot G, Contestabile A, Seeck M, Kiss JZ, Schaller K, Michel CM, Quairiaux C

The Journal of Neuroscience, 38(15): 3776-3791, April 2018


Most research on focal epilepsy focuses on mechanisms of seizure generation in the primary epileptic focus (EF). However, neurological deficits that are not directly linked to seizure activity and that may persist after focus removal are frequent. The recruitment of remote brain regions of an epileptic network (EN) is recognized as a possible cause, but a profound lack of experimental evidence exists concerning their recruitment and the type of pathological activities they exhibit. We studied the development of epileptic activities at the large-scale in male mice of the kainate model of unilateral temporal lobe epilepsy using high-density surface EEG and multiple-site intracortical recordings. We show that, along with focal spikes and fast ripples that remain localized to the injected hippocampus (i.e., the EF), a subpopulation of spikes that propagate across the brain progressively emerges even before the expression of seizures. The spatiotemporal propagation of these generalized spikes (GSs) is highly stable within and across animals, defining a large-scale EN comprising both hippocampal regions and frontal cortices. Interestingly, GSs are often concomitant with muscular twitches. In addition, while fast ripples are, as expected, highly frequent in the EF, they also emerge in remote cortical regions and in particular in frontal regions where GSs propagate. Finally, we demonstrate that these remote interictal activities are dependent on the focus in the early phase of the disease but continue to be expressed after focus silencing at later stages. Our results provide evidence that neuronal networks outside the initial focus are progressively altered during epileptogenesis. It has long been held that the epileptic focus is responsible for triggering seizures and driving interictal activities. However, focal epilepsies are associated with heterogeneous symptoms, calling into question the concept of a strictly focal disease. Using the mouse model of hippocampal sclerosis, this work demonstrates that focal epilepsy leads to the development of pathological activities specific to the epileptic condition, notably fast ripples, that appear outside of the primary epileptic focus. Whereas these activities are dependent on the focus early in the disease, focus silencing fails to control them in the chronic stage. Thus, dynamical changes specific to the epileptic condition are built up outside of the epileptic focus along with disease progression, which provides supporting evidence for network alterations in focal epilepsy.

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