Altered intrinsic functional connectivity in the latent period of epileptogenesis in a temporal lobe epilepsy model

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The latent period, a seizure-free phase, is the duration between brain injury and the onset of spontaneous recurrent seizures (SRSs) during epileptogenesis. The latent period is thought to involve several progressive pathophysiological events that lead to the evolution of the chronic epilepsy phase. Hence, it is vital to investigate the changes in the latent period during epileptogenesis in order to better understand temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), and to achieve early diagnosis and appropriate management of the condition. Accordingly, recent studies with patients with TLE using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) have reported that alterations of resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) during the chronic period are associated with some clinical manifestations, including learning and memory impairments, emotional instability, and social behavior deficits, in addition to repetitive seizure episodes. In contrast, the changes in the intrinsic rsFC during epileptogenesis, particularly during the latent period, remain unclear. In this study, we investigated the alterations in intrinsic rsFC during the latent and chronic periods in a pilocarpine-induced TLE mouse model using intrinsic optical signal imaging (IOSI). This technique can monitor the changes in the local hemoglobin concentration according to neuronal activity and can help investigate large-scale brain intrinsic networks. After seeding on the anatomical regions of interest (ROIs) and calculating the correlation coefficients between each ROI, we established and compared functional correlation matrices and functional connectivity maps during the latent and chronic periods of epilepsy. We found a decrease in the interhemispheric rsFC at the frontal and temporal regions during both the latent and chronic periods. Furthermore, a significant decrease in the interhemispheric rsFC was observed in the somatosensory area during the chronic period. Changes in network configurations during epileptogenesis were examined by graph theoretical network analysis. Interestingly, increase in the power of low frequency oscillations was observed during the latent period. These results suggest that, even if there are no apparent ictal seizure events during the latent period, there are ongoing changes in the rsFC in the epileptic brain. Furthermore, these results suggest that the pathophysiology of epilepsy may be related to widespread altered intrinsic functional connectivity. These findings can help enhance our understanding of epileptogenesis, and accordingly, changes in intrinsic functional connectivity can serve as an early diagnosis.

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