Selection of Phenytoin Responders and Nonresponders in Male and Female Amygdala-Kindled Sprague-Dawley Rats

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We recently described that, by repeated testing of the anticonvulsant phenytoin (PHT), it is possible to select responders and nonresponders from large populations of amygdala-kindled Wistar rats. Whereas responders show marked and reproducible increases of focal seizure threshold (afterdischarge threshold; ADT) on repeated testing of PHT, 75 mg/kg i.p., nonresponders do not show any significant ADT increase after this dose, thus allowing use of these subgroups in the search for mechanisms of pharmacoresistance in temporal lobe epilepsy. In this study, we examined whether PHT responders and nonresponders can also be selected from large groups of kindled rats of the Sprague-Dawley strain.


Male and female Sprague-Dawley rats were amygdala kindled, followed by once weekly i.p. testing of PHT.


In contrast to recent experiments in Wistar rats, 75 mg/kg PHT did not induce significant ADT increases in Sprague-Dawley rats, indicating strain differences in response to this drug after kindling. When the dose was lowered to 50 or 25 mg/kg, significant and reproducible ADT increases were obtained in Sprague-Dawley rats of both genders. Therefore these doses were used for selection of responders and nonresponders in a total of 42 rats. Almost 50% of the rats were PHT responders, whereas no rat was a nonresponder when tested in up to six subsequent drug trials. Many rats were variable responders (i.e., showed ADT increases in some but not all trials), which was not due to low or variable drug absorption after i.p. injection.


The data indicate that, in contrast to Wistar rats, Sprague-Dawley rats are not suited for selection of PHT nonresponders, but rather are quite responsive to this drug. A further difference to the Wistar strain is the truncated dose-response with loss of anticonvulsant efficacy at 75 mg/kg in kindled Sprague-Dawley rats, which may, at least in part, explain the inconsistent results reported on the anticonvulsant efficacy of PHT in this strain in the literature. The lack of anticonvulsant activity after administration of 75 mg/kg may be a result of kindling, because administration of this dose before kindling causes a significant ADT increase in this strain. This kindling-induced alteration of the anticonvulsant activity of PHT is a phenomenon that contrasts Sprague-Dawley with Wistar rats and deserves further investigation.

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