Is exposure to enriched environment beneficial for functional post-lesional recovery in temporal lobe epilepsy?

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Exposure to enriched environment has been shown to induce robust neuronal plasticity in both intact and injured adult central nervous system, including up-regulation of multiple neurotrophic factors, enhanced neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus, and improved spatial learning and memory function. Neuronal plasticity, though mostly adaptive and abnormal, also occurs during certain neurodegenerative conditions such as the temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). The TLE is characterized by hippocampal neurodegeneration, aberrant mossy fiber sprouting, spontaneous recurrent motor seizures, cognitive deficits, and abnormally enhanced neurogenesis during the early phase and dramatically declined neurogenesis during the chronic phase of the disease. As environmental enrichment has been found to be beneficial for treating animal models of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington's diseases, there is considerable interest in determining the efficacy of this strategy for preventing or treating chronic TLE after the initial precipitating brain injury. This review first discusses the proof of principle behind the potential application of the environmental enrichment strategy for preventing or treating TLE after brain injury. The subsequent chapters confer the portrayed beneficial effects of enrichment for functional post-lesional recovery in TLE and the possible complications which may arise from housing epilepsy-prone or epileptic rats in enriched environmental conditions. The final segment discusses studies that are essential for further understanding the efficacy of this approach for preventing or treating TLE.

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