Effects of drugs on the initiation and maintenance of status epilepticus induced by administration of pilocarpine to lithium-pretreated rats

Richard A. Morrisett, Richard S. Jope, O. Carter Snead

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110 Scopus citations


The ability of various drugs to prevent the onset of status epilepticus induced by administration of the muscarinic agonist, pilocarpine, to lithium-pretreated rats was determined. Motor limbic seizures and status epilepticus occurred in 100% of rats administered pilocarpine (30 mg/kg, s.c.) 20 h after pretreatment with lithium (3 meq/kg, i.p.). The latency to spike activity and to status epilepticus was 20 ± 1 min and 24 ± 1 min, respectively. Atropine, diazepam, phenytoin, carbamazepine, phenobarbital, paraldehyde, and l-phenylisopropyladenosine (l-PIA) prevented all phases of seizure activity induced by lithium/pilocarpine treatment. The initiation of status epilepticus was significantly prolonged by pretreatment with sodium valproate. These findings indicate that the seizures induced by administration of lithium and pilocarpine accurately model generalized tonic-clonic epilepsy. The anticonvulsant activity of l-PIA was prevented by prior treatment with the adenosine antagonist, theophylline. The latency to spike and seizure activity was decreased by theophylline, indicating that endogenous adenosine may have a tonic inhibitory influence on cholinergic neurons. Atropine, diazepam, phenobarbital, phenytoin, sodium valproate, l-PIA, and carbamazepine did not interrupt seizure activity when administered 60 min after pilocarpine (approximately 35 min after initiation of status epilepticus). When rats were administered paraldehyde at this time, status epilepticus was rapidly terminated and all rats survived. Thus, status epilepticus induced by lithium and pilocarpine provides a seizure model that is not responsive to conventional anticonvulsants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-200
Number of pages8
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1987
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience

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