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Concept: Seizure


In mammals, odorants are detected by a large family of receptors that are each expressed in just a small subset of olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs). Here we describe a strain of transgenic mice engineered to express an octanal receptor in almost all OSNs. Remarkably, octanal triggered a striking and involuntary phenotype in these animals, with passive exposure regularly inducing seizures. Octanal exposure invariably resulted in widespread activation of OSNs but interestingly seizures only occurred in 30-40% of trials. We hypothesized that this reflects the need for the olfactory system to filter strong but slowly-changing backgrounds from salient signals. Therefore we used an olfactometer to control octanal delivery and demonstrated suppression of responses whenever this odorant is delivered slowly. By contrast, rapid exposure of the mice to octanal induced seizure in every trial. Our results expose new details of olfactory processing and provide a robust and non-invasive platform for studying epilepsy.

Concepts: Sensory system, Olfactory receptor neuron, Olfaction, Epilepsy, Olfactory receptor, Seizure, Odor, Sensory neuron


Neural stimulation can reduce the frequency of seizures in persons with epilepsy, but rates of seizure-free outcome are low. Vagus nerve stimulation prevents seizures by continuously activating noradrenergic projections from the brainstem to the cortex. Cortical norepinephrine then increases GABAergic transmission and increases seizure threshold. Another approach, responsive nervous stimulation, prevents seizures by reactively shocking the seizure onset zone in precise synchrony with seizure onset. The electrical shocks abort seizures before they can spread and manifest clinically. The goal of this study was to determine whether a hybrid platform in which brainstem activation triggered in response to impending seizure activity could prevent seizures. We chose the zebrafish as a model organism for this study because of its ability to recapitulate human disease, in conjunction with its innate capacity for tightly controlled high-throughput experimentation. We first set out to determine whether electrical stimulation of the zebrafish hindbrain could have an anticonvulsant effect. We found that pulse train electrical stimulation of the hindbrain significantly increased the latency to onset of pentylenetetrazole-induced seizures, and that this apparent anticonvulsant effect was blocked by noradrenergic antagonists, as is also the case with rodents and humans. We also found that the anticonvulsant effect of hindbrain stimulation could be potentiated by reactive triggering of single pulse electrical stimulations in response to impending seizure activity. Finally, we found that the rate of stimulation triggering was directly proportional to pentylenetetrazole concentration and that the stimulation rate was reduced by the anticonvulsant valproic acid and by larger stimulation currents. Taken as a whole, these results show that that the anticonvulsant effect of brainstem activation can be efficiently utilized by reactive triggering, which suggests that alternative stimulation paradigms for vagus nerve stimulation might be useful. Moreover, our results show that the zebrafish epilepsy model can be used to advance our understanding of neural stimulation in the treatment of epilepsy.

Concepts: Nervous system, Neurology, Cranial nerves, Epilepsy, Vagus nerve stimulation, Anticonvulsant, Seizure, Status epilepticus


In some patients who undergo presurgical workup for drug-resistant epilepsy invasive seizure monitoring is needed to define the seizure onset zone and delineate eloquent cortex. Such procedures carry risks for complications causing permanent morbidity and even mortality. In this study, prospective data on complications in a national population-based sample were analysed.

Concepts: Observational study, Neurology, Epilepsy, Investment, Seizure


Visibility graph has established itself as a powerful tool for analyzing time series. We in this paper develop a novel multiscale limited penetrable horizontal visibility graph (MLPHVG). We use nonlinear time series from two typical complex systems, i.e., EEG signals and two-phase flow signals, to demonstrate the effectiveness of our method. Combining MLPHVG and support vector machine, we detect epileptic seizures from the EEG signals recorded from healthy subjects and epilepsy patients and the classification accuracy is 100%. In addition, we derive MLPHVGs from oil-water two-phase flow signals and find that the average clustering coefficient at different scales allows faithfully identifying and characterizing three typical oil-water flow patterns. These findings render our MLPHVG method particularly useful for analyzing nonlinear time series from the perspective of multiscale network analysis.

Concepts: Neurology, Epilepsy, Seizure, Myoclonus, Network theory


Medically refractory epilepsy continues to be a challenge worldwide, and despite an increasing number of medical therapies, approximately 1 in 3 patients continues to have seizures. Cannabidiol (CBD), one of many constituents of the Cannabis sativa or marijuana plant, has received renewed interest in the treatment of epilepsy. While highly purified CBD awaits Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, artisanal formulations of CBD are readily available and are seeing increased use in our patient population. Although randomized controlled trials of CBD are ongoing and promising, data regarding artisanal formulations of CBD are minimal and largely anecdotal. Here, we report a retrospective study to define the efficacy of artisanal CBD preparations in children with epilepsy. Given the known interaction between CBD and clobazam, we also conducted a subgroup comparison to determine if clobazam use was related to any beneficial effects of CBD. Additionally, we compared response rates with CBD and with clobazam alone within an overlapping patient cohort. A pediatric cohort with epilepsy of 108 patients was identified through a medical record search for patients using CBD oil. The addition of CBD resulted in 39% of patients having a >50% reduction in seizures, with 10% becoming seizure-free. The responder rate for clobazam was similar. No patients achieved CBD monotherapy, although the weaning of other antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) became possible in 22% of patients. A comparable proportion had AED additions during CBD therapy. With concomitant use of clobazam, 44% of patients had a 50% reduction in seizures upon addition of CBD compared with 33% in the population not taking clobazam; this difference was not statistically significant. The most common reported side effect of CBD was sedation in less than 4% of patients, all of whom were also taking clobazam. Increased alertness and improved verbal interactions were reported in 14% of patients in the CBD group and 8% of patients in the CBD and clobazam group. Benefits were more marked in the CBD alone group, in contrast to the CBD and clobazam group, but this difference was not statistically significant. In summary, these findings support efficacy of artisanal CBD preparations in seizure reduction with few significant side effects. The response to CBD was independent of concurrent clobazam use, although clobazam may contribute to the sedation seen with concurrent CBD use.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Medicine, Randomized controlled trial, Epilepsy, Anticonvulsant, Seizure, Cannabis, Myoclonus


Approximately 3 million American adults reported active epilepsy* in 2015 (1). Active epilepsy, especially when seizures are uncontrolled, poses substantial burdens because of somatic, neurologic, and mental health comorbidity; cognitive and physical dysfunction; side effects of antiseizure medications; higher injury and mortality rates; poorer quality of life; and increased financial cost (2). Thus, prompt diagnosis and seizure control (i.e., seizure-free in the 12 months preceding the survey) confers numerous clinical and social advantages to persons with active epilepsy. To obtain recent and reliable estimates of active epilepsy and seizure control status in the U.S. population, CDC analyzed aggregated data from the 2013 and the 2015 National Health Interview Surveys (NHISs). Overall, an annual estimated 2.6 million (1.1%) U.S. adults self-reported having active epilepsy, 67% of whom had seen a neurologist or an epilepsy specialist in the past year, and 90% of whom reported taking epilepsy medication. Among those taking epilepsy medication, only 44% reported having their seizures controlled. A higher prevalence of active epilepsy and poorer seizure control were associated with low family income, unemployment, and being divorced, separated, or widowed. Use of epilepsy medication was higher among adults who saw an epilepsy specialist in the past year than among those who did not. Health care and public health should ensure that adults with uncontrolled seizures have appropriate care and self-management support in order to promote seizure control, improve health and social outcomes, and reduce health care costs.

Concepts: Health care, Medicine, Neurology, Epilepsy, Seizure, Control


Epilepsy is defined by the seemingly random occurrence of spontaneous seizures. The ability to anticipate seizures would enable preventative treatment strategies. A central but unresolved question concerns the relationship of seizure timing to fluctuating rates of interictal epileptiform discharges (here termed interictal epileptiform activity, IEA), a marker of brain irritability observed between seizures by electroencephalography (EEG). Here, in 37 subjects with an implanted brain stimulation device that detects IEA and seizures over years, we find that IEA oscillates with circadian and subject-specific multidien (multi-day) periods. Multidien periodicities, most commonly 20-30 days in duration, are robust and relatively stable for up to 10 years in men and women. We show that seizures occur preferentially during the rising phase of multidien IEA rhythms. Combining phase information from circadian and multidien IEA rhythms provides a novel biomarker for determining relative seizure risk with a large effect size in most subjects.

Concepts: Neurology, Electroencephalography, Epilepsy, Effect size, Seizure, Myoclonus


Background Convulsive status epilepticus often results in permanent neurologic impairment. We evaluated the effect of induced hypothermia on neurologic outcomes in patients with convulsive status epilepticus. Methods In a multicenter trial, we randomly assigned 270 critically ill patients with convulsive status epilepticus who were receiving mechanical ventilation to hypothermia (32 to 34°C for 24 hours) in addition to standard care or to standard care alone; 268 patients were included in the analysis. The primary outcome was a good functional outcome at 90 days, defined as a Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) score of 5 (range, 1 to 5, with 1 representing death and 5 representing no or minimal neurologic deficit). The main secondary outcomes were mortality at 90 days, progression to electroencephalographically (EEG) confirmed status epilepticus, refractory status epilepticus on day 1, “super-refractory” status epilepticus (resistant to general anesthesia), and functional sequelae on day 90. Results A GOS score of 5 occurred in 67 of 138 patients (49%) in the hypothermia group and in 56 of 130 (43%) in the control group (adjusted common odds ratio, 1.22; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.75 to 1.99; P=0.43). The rate of progression to EEG-confirmed status epilepticus on the first day was lower in the hypothermia group than in the control group (11% vs. 22%; odds ratio, 0.40; 95% CI, 0.20 to 0.79; P=0.009), but there were no significant differences between groups in the other secondary outcomes. Adverse events were more frequent in the hypothermia group than in the control group. Conclusions In this trial, induced hypothermia added to standard care was not associated with significantly better 90-day outcomes than standard care alone in patients with convulsive status epilepticus. (Funded by the French Ministry of Health; HYBERNATUS number, NCT01359332 .).

Concepts: Clinical trial, Medical terms, Neurology, Therapeutic hypothermia, Epilepsy, Seizure, Status epilepticus, Complex partial status epilepticus


Certain visual images, even in the absence of motion or flicker, can trigger seizures in patients with photosensitive epilepsy. As of yet, there is no systematic explanation as to why some static images are likely to provoke seizures, while others pose little or no risk. Here, we examined the neurophysiology literature to assess whether the pattern of neural responses in healthy visual cortex is predictive of the pathological responses in photosensitive epilepsy. Previous studies have suggested that gamma oscillations (30-80 Hz) measured in human visual cortex may play a role in seizure generation [1,2]. Recently, we and others have shown that increases in gamma band power can come from two very different cortical signals, one that is oscillatory (with a narrow peak between 30 Hz and 80 Hz), and another that is broadband[3]. The oscillatory signal arises from neuronal synchrony in the local population, while the broadband signal reflects the level of asynchronous neuronal activity, and is correlated with multiunit spiking [4]. These two responses have different biological origins and different selectivity for image properties. Here, we followed up on the previous proposals [1,2] to ask whether the image features that increase seizure likelihood in photosensitive epilepsy are linked to narrowband gamma oscillations specifically, or are associated with any kind of increase in visual activity. Based on published work, we compared pairs of image classes on a number of dimensions, and show that the type of image that elicits larger narrowband gamma oscillations in healthy visual cortex is also more likely to provoke seizures or pre-seizure activity in patients with photosensitive epilepsy. In contrast, images that elicit larger broadband, multiunit, or fMRI responses are much less predictive of seizure activity. We propose that a risk factor for seizures in patients with photosensitive epilepsy is engagement of the circuitry that produces gamma oscillations.

Concepts: Brain, Electroencephalography, Epilepsy, Seizure, Absence seizure, Myoclonus, Photosensitive epilepsy, Seizure trigger


Approximately one in every two patients with pharmacoresistant temporal lobe epilepsy will not be rendered completely seizure-free after temporal lobe surgery. The reasons for this are unknown and are likely to be multifactorial. Quantitative volumetric magnetic resonance imaging techniques have provided limited insight into the causes of persistent postoperative seizures in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy. The relationship between postoperative outcome and preoperative pathology of white matter tracts, which constitute crucial components of epileptogenic networks, is unknown. We investigated regional tissue characteristics of preoperative temporal lobe white matter tracts known to be important in the generation and propagation of temporal lobe seizures in temporal lobe epilepsy, using diffusion tensor imaging and automated fibre quantification. We studied 43 patients with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy associated with hippocampal sclerosis and 44 healthy controls. Patients underwent preoperative imaging, amygdalohippocampectomy and postoperative assessment using the International League Against Epilepsy seizure outcome scale. From preoperative imaging, the fimbria-fornix, parahippocampal white matter bundle and uncinate fasciculus were reconstructed, and scalar diffusion metrics were calculated along the length of each tract. Altogether, 51.2% of patients were rendered completely seizure-free and 48.8% continued to experience postoperative seizure symptoms. Relative to controls, both patient groups exhibited strong and significant diffusion abnormalities along the length of the uncinate bilaterally, the ipsilateral parahippocampal white matter bundle, and the ipsilateral fimbria-fornix in regions located within the medial temporal lobe. However, only patients with persistent postoperative seizures showed evidence of significant pathology of tract sections located in the ipsilateral dorsal fornix and in the contralateral parahippocampal white matter bundle. Using receiver operating characteristic curves, diffusion characteristics of these regions could classify individual patients according to outcome with 84% sensitivity and 89% specificity. Pathological changes in the dorsal fornix were beyond the margins of resection, and contralateral parahippocampal changes may suggest a bitemporal disorder in some patients. Furthermore, diffusion characteristics of the ipsilateral uncinate could classify patients from controls with a sensitivity of 98%; importantly, by co-registering the preoperative fibre maps to postoperative surgical lacuna maps, we observed that the extent of uncinate resection was significantly greater in patients who were rendered seizure-free, suggesting that a smaller resection of the uncinate may represent insufficient disconnection of an anterior temporal epileptogenic network. These results may have the potential to be developed into imaging prognostic markers of postoperative outcome and provide new insights for why some patients with temporal lobe epilepsy continue to experience postoperative seizures.

Concepts: Magnetic resonance imaging, Temporal lobe, Cerebrum, Hippocampus, Epilepsy, Seizure, Temporal lobe epilepsy, Hippocampal sclerosis