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Better Rat Model of Epilepsy in Women Developed

May allow better study of seizures specific to menstrual cycle stages

WEDNESDAY, May 27 (HealthDay News) -- A better animal model of epilepsy in women has been developed where the animals retain reproductive function, which may allow better study of epilepsy where seizures occur during specific stages of the menstrual cycle, according to a study published online May 14 in Endocrinology.

Helen E. Scharfman, Ph.D., from the Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research in Orangeburg, N.Y., and colleagues examined whether injecting female rats with the selective estrogen receptor modulator raloxifene, followed by the muscarinic convulsant pilocarpine 30 minutes later to induce status epilepticus, followed by injection with the anticonvulsant barbiturate pentobarbital to minimize acute convulsions was a good model of epilepsy in women. Raloxifene may protect against pilocarpine-induced damage to hypothalamic areas controlling reproductive function, which is often destroyed in other models of epilepsy, they note.

The researchers found that the rat model had significantly improved reproductive function (the ability to sustain regular estrous cycles) and less mortality after status epilepticus compared with other models. The rats also continued to have recurrent spontaneous convulsions in the weeks after status epilepticus.

"The results of this study provide an improved animal model to examine the interactions between seizures and ovarian hormone secretion," Scharfman and colleagues conclude. "The results also suggest that treatment of status epilepticus with raloxifene may benefit women with status epilepticus."

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