Cardiac neural discharge and epileptogenic activity in the cat: An animal model for unexplained death

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Schraeder PL and Lathers CM (1983) Cardiac neural discharge and epileptogenic activity in the cat: An animal model for unexplained death. Life Sci 32:12 1371–82.

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Abstract: This study developed an animal model to explore the hypothesis that altered autonomic function may be one cause for unexplained sudden epileptic deaths. After alpha-chloralose anesthesia, 9 cats received a tracheostomy and a thoracotomy. Intravenous gallamine was used to paralyze the cats. Blood pressure, arterial blood gases, electrocardiogram, and rectal temperature were monitored. Simultaneous monitoring of the neural discharge in postganglionic cardiac sympathetic branches and the vagus nerve was combined with a bilateral craniectomy and electrocorticography. Pentylenetetrazol was given intravenously at 10 min intervals in 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 2000 mg/kg doses. Epileptiform discharges were categorized as a prolonged ictal (duration of 10 sec or more), brief ictal (duration of less than 10 sec mixed with suppression), and interictal spike activity. The two types of ictal activity were quantified by duration in seconds for the 10 min interval after each dose of pentylenetetrazol; the number of interictal spikes/min was determined for each minute of the entire experiment. This study developed a model which quantified the degree of epileptiform activity and correlated it with changes in cardiovascular function and autonomic cardiac neural discharge. An imbalance within and between sympathetic and parasympathetic cardiac neural discharges was found, as was a significant disruption of the physiological relationships between heart rate and blood pressure. Frequent and varied electrocardiogram abnormalities occurred. All of the above changes occurred during minimal (interictal) subconvulsant as well as during maximal (ictal) convulsant epileptogenic activity.

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  • Animal study involving cats. Surface EEG was recorded along with vagal and postganglionic cardiac sympathetic nerve activity during seizures induced with pentylenetetrazol. Study found an “imbalance within and between sympathetic and parasympathetic cardiac neural discharges” and many EKG abnormalities. To the extent that this model accurately reflects human seizures this provides evidene for autonomic disruption during seizure.

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