Acetylcholine Content in Rat Brain Is Elevated by Status Epilepticus Induced by Lithium and Pilocarpine

Richard S. Jope, Michele Simonato, Kathleen Lally

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75 Scopus citations


The effects of status epilepticus on the concentration, synthesis, release, and subcellular localization of acetylcholine, the concentration of choline, and the activity of acetylcholinesterase in rat brain regions were studied. Generalized convulsive status epilepticus was induced by the administration of pilocarpine to lithium-treated rats. The concentration of acetylcholine in the cortex, hippocampus, and striatum decreased prior to the onset of spike activity or status epilepticus. Once status epilepticus began, the concentration of acetylcholine increased over time in the cortex and hippocampus, reaching peak levels that were 461% and 304% of control levels, respectively, after 2 h of seizures. Such high in vivo levels of acetylcholine had not been reported previously following any treatment. During status epilepticus, the concentration of acetylcholine in the striatum returned to control levels after the initial depression, but did not accumulate to high levels as it did in the other two regions. The in vivo cortical efflux of acetylcholine was also increased during the seizures. Choline levels were increased by status epilepticus in all three brain regions. Inhibition of seizures by pretreatment with atropine blocked the increases of acetylcholine and choline. Synaptosomes prepared from the cortex and from the hippocampus of rats with status epilepticus had elevated concentrations of acetylcholine: in the hippocampus the acetylcholine was principally in the cytoplasmic fraction, whereas in the cortex the acetylcholine was elevated in both the cytoplasmic and the vesicular fractions. The extra acetylcholine was in a releasable compartment, since increased K+ in the media or ouabain increased the release of acetylcholine from cortical slices to a greater extent in tissue from seized rats than from controls. The activity of acetylcholinesterase was not reduced by status epilepticus. These findings demonstrate that status epilepticus induced by lithium and pilocarpine alters the regulation of acetylcholine synthesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)944-951
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of neurochemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1987
Externally publishedYes


  • Acetylcholine
  • Cholinergic activity
  • Seizures
  • Status epilepticus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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