Listen as Basic Science Editor Sloka Iyengar PhD continues her series of talks about catamenial epilepsy by reviewing how it is studied in laboratory settings.
Over the years, scientists have been using a variety of models to study epilepsy in the lab. For example, administration of a chemical known as a chemoconvulsant, administration of electrical stimulation, and genetic models are used to generate experimental animals (mostly rats and mice) with seizures. These animal models are used not only to study mechanisms underlying seizures, but also possible therapies.
The advantages of using rodents for this kind of research are numerous.
These factors make them good candidates for these studies.
That being said, the ovarian cycle of rodents lasts 4 to 5 days, and the menstrual cycle in humans lasts 28 days. Therefore, any data from animal models may or may not accurately represent what happens in the human condition. Still, these rodent models give us remarkable insight into changes occurring in the brain leading to seizures.
As one might expect, epilepsy might be caused by (and may result in) many changes in the brain. It is doubtful that any one animal model will capture all the relevant characteristics of the phenomenon. To overcome this challenge, therapies and experiments are tested in a variety of animal models.