Amygdala kindling develops without mossy fiber sprouting and hippocampal neuronal degeneration in rats

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Repeated electrical stimulation of limbic structures has been reported to produce the kindling effect together with morphological changes in the hippocampus such as mossy fiber sprouting and/or neuronal loss. However, to argue against a causal role of these neuropathological changes in the development of kindling-associated seizures, we examined mossy fiber sprouting in amygdala (AM)-kindled rats using Timm histochemical staining, and evaluated the hippocampal neuronal degeneration in AM-kindled rats by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated digoxigenin-11-dUTP nick end labelling (TUNEL). Amygdala kindling was established by 10.3 ± 0.7 electrical stimulations, and no increase in Timm granules (neuronal sprouting) was observed up to the time of acquisition of a fully kindled state. However, the density and distribution of Timm granules increased significantly in the dentate gyrus compared with unkindled rats after 29 after-discharges or more than 10 kindled convulsions. In addition, no significant increase in TUNEL-positive cells was found in the hilar polymorphic neurons or in CA3 pyramidal neurons of the kindled rats that had fewer than 29 after-discharges. However, a significant increase of TUNEL-positive cells was found in the granule cell layer in the dentate gyrus of the stimulated side after 18 after-discharges or 10 kindled convulsions. Our result show that AM kindling develops without evidence of mossy fiber sprouting, and that mossy fiber sprouting may appear after repeated kindled convulsions, following death of the granule cells in the dentate gyrus.

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