Featuring the work of CURE Epilepsy PTE Initiative’s Virginia Tech Team
Abstract found on MDPI
Background: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) remains a significant risk factor for post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE). The pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the injury-induced epileptogenesis are under investigation. The dentate gyrus—a structure that is highly susceptible to injury—has been implicated in the evolution of seizure development. Methods: Utilizing the murine unilateral focal control cortical impact (CCI) injury, we evaluated seizure onset using 24/7 EEG video analysis at 2–4 months post-injury. Cellular changes in the dentate gyrus and hilus of the hippocampus were quantified by unbiased stereology and Imaris image analysis to evaluate Prox1-positive cell migration, astrocyte branching, and morphology, as well as neuronal loss at four months post-injury. Isolation of region-specific astrocytes and RNA-Seq were performed to determine differential gene expression in animals that developed post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE+) vs. those animals that did not (PTE-), which may be associated with epileptogenesis. Results: CCI injury resulted in 37% PTE incidence, which increased with injury severity and hippocampal damage. Histological assessments uncovered a significant loss of hilar interneurons that coincided with aberrant migration of Prox1-positive granule cells and reduced astroglial branching in PTE+ compared to PTE- mice. We uniquely identified Cst3 as a PTE+-specific gene signature in astrocytes across all brain regions, which showed increased astroglial expression in the PTE+ hilus. Conclusions: These findings suggest that epileptogenesis may emerge following TBI due to distinct aberrant cellular remodeling events and key molecular changes in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus.