GAERS

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The GAERS or Genetic Absence Epilepsy Rat from Strasbourg is a recognized animal model of absence epilepsy, a typical childhood form of epilepsy characterized by recurrent loss of contact and concomitant pattern on the electroencephalogram called "spike-and-wave" discharges. It was first characterized in Strasbourg in the 1980s and since then has been used by different international research groups to understand the mechanisms underlying absence seizures and their ontogeny, using different techniques.

History[edit]

In the 1980s the research group of Marguerite Vergnes at Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) in Strasbourg (France) reported the spontaneous occurrence of spike-and-wave discharges (SWD) evocative of absence seizures in Wistar rats during cortical electroencephalographic (EE]) recordings.[1] These seizures were recorded on both sides of the brain, lasted about 20 sec and occurred when the animals were quiet. Importantly, SWD were always associated with a typical "arrest" of the rats' behavior with twitching of the vibrissae. In addition, drugs used in the clinic to stop absence seizures (ethosuccimide, valproate) suppressed SWDs in these rats, whereas those that aggravate these seizures in patients (carbamazepine, phenytoine), increased rats' seizures.[2]

Development of two strains[edit]

These initial observations led to the development of two breeding colonies:[3][4] (i) a fully inbred strain of rats, with 100% of animals displaying the EEG and behavioral characteristics of absence seizures, derived from an outbred Wistar colony and called the Genetic Absence Epilepsy Rats from Strasbourg (GAERS) (ii) a strain of non epileptic control animals selected from the same initial breeding colony of Wistar rats and called the NEC. Since then, the GAERS has been recognized as a very predictive model for absence epilepsy, along with the WAG/Rij rat model.[5] The colony, initially developed in Strasbourg (France), is maintained at the University of Grenoble Alpes (France) under Inserm licence.[6]

Effects of antiepileptic drugs[edit]

The reactivity of GAERS to antiepileptic drugs is unique since it perfectly matches with the effects of these drugs in patients with typical absence epilepsy[7][8]

The following table summarizes the effects of the different antiepileptic that were tested on GAERS:

Antiepileptic drugs Effect on human patients with absence epilepsy Effects on GAERS Refs
Valproate Suppression Suppression [9]
Ethosuccimide Suppression Suppression [10]
Trimetadione Suppression Suppression [11]
Levetiracetam Suppression Suppression [12]
Lamotrigine Suppression Suppression [13]
Carbamazepine Aggravation Aggravation [14]
Phenytoine Aggravation Aggravation [15]
Vigabatrin Aggravation Aggravation [16]
Tiagabine Aggravation Aggravation [17]
Pregabalin No effect No effect [18]

Genetic transmission and chromosomal mapping[edit]

In GAERS x NEC F1 generation, more than 95% of the animals showed SWDs after 6 months, suggesting a dominant transmission. Similar SWDs were recorded in males and females, indicating that the transmission is autosomal. Inter-individual variability suggested that the inheritance of SWDs is not due to a single gene locus and/or that environmental effects might play a role. This mode of inheritance was confirmed in F2 (F1 x F1) and backcross (F1 x control) generations.[19] When F2 population was generated by breeding GAERS with Brown Norway rats, a polygenic inheritance of SWD-related phenotypes was shown and three quantitative trait loci were identified that could control different variables of SWDs (e.g., frequency, amplitude, duration). In this study, the age of the animals was found to be a major factor influencing the detection of genetic linkage to the various components of the SWDs.[20] The development of two inbred strains from the same initial colony has appeared as a very powerful tool to study the possible mutations involved in a genetically complex idiopathic epilepsy. A functional mutation in the Cacna1h gene encoding the Cav3.2 low-voltage activated Ca2+ channel was found using the two strains.[21] In addition, the effect is due to a gain-of-function splice variant mutation, and is semi-dominant, explaining about 20% of the phenotypic variance in the cross. In heterologous expression studies, it was shown that the GAERS splice variant allele on Cav3.2 conferred faster recovery from channel inactivation and greater charge transference during high-frequency bursts. This is in agreement with a previous study that showed a selective increase in the T-type conductance in GAERS nRT neurons.[22] It is also in line with the role of the low voltage activated Ca2+ channel in thalamic burst firing and genetic data in human patients.[23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Vergnes, M., Marescaux, C., Micheletti, G., Reis, J., Depaulis, A., Rumbach, L., Warter, J.M., 1982. Spontaneous paroxysmal electroclinical patterns in rat: a model of generalized non-convulsive epilepsy. Neuroscience Letters 33, 97–101.
  2. ^ Micheletti, G., Vergnes, M., Marescaux, C., Reis, J., Depaulis, A., Rumbach, L., Warter, J.M., 1985. Antiepileptic drug evaluation in a new animal model: spontaneous petit mal epilepsy in the rat. Arzneimittelforschung 35, 483–485
  3. ^ Marescaux, C., Vergnes, M., Depaulis, A., 1992. Genetic absence epilepsy in rats from Strasbourg--a review. Journal of Neural Transmission - Supplement 35, 37–69
  4. ^ Danober, L., Deransart, C., Depaulis, A., Vergnes, M., Marescaux, C., 1998. Pathophysiological mechanisms of genetic absence epilepsy in the rat. Prog. Neurobiol. 55, 27–57
  5. ^ Depaulis, A., van Luijtelaar, G., 2005. Genetic models of absence epilepsy in the rat, in: Pitkänen, A., Schwartzkroin, P., Moshe, S. (Eds.), Models of Seizures and Epilepsy. Oxford: Elsevier Academic, Amsterdam, pp. 233–248.
  6. ^ Depaulis, A., David, O., Charpier, S., 2015. The genetic absence epilepsy rat from Strasbourg as a model to decipher the neuronal and network mechanisms of generalized idiopathic epilepsies. Journal of Neuroscience Methods 1–16.
  7. ^ Marescaux, C., Vergnes, M., Depaulis, A., 1992. Genetic absence epilepsy in rats from Strasbourg--a review. Journal of Neural Transmission - Supplement 35, 37–69
  8. ^ Danober, L., Deransart, C., Depaulis, A., Vergnes, M., Marescaux, C., 1998. Pathophysiological mechanisms of genetic absence epilepsy in the rat. Prog. Neurobiol. 55, 27–57
  9. ^ Micheletti, G., Vergnes, M., Marescaux, C., Reis, J., Depaulis, A., Rumbach, L., Warter, J.M., 1985. Antiepileptic drug evaluation in a new animal model: spontaneous petit mal epilepsy in the rat. Arzneimittelforschung 35, 483–485.
  10. ^ Micheletti, G., Vergnes, M., Marescaux, C., Reis, J., Depaulis, A., Rumbach, L., Warter, J.M., 1985. Antiepileptic drug evaluation in a new animal model: spontaneous petit mal epilepsy in the rat. Arzneimittelforschung 35, 483–485.
  11. ^ Micheletti, G., Vergnes, M., Marescaux, C., Reis, J., Depaulis, A., Rumbach, L., Warter, J.M., 1985. Antiepileptic drug evaluation in a new animal model: spontaneous petit mal epilepsy in the rat. Arzneimittelforschung 35, 483–485.
  12. ^ Gower, A.J., Hirsch, E., Boehrer, A., Noyer, M., Marescaux, C., 1995. Effects of levetiracetam, a novel antiepileptic drug, on convulsant activity in two genetic rat models of epilepsy. Epilepsy Research 22, 207–213.
  13. ^ Augusto Grinspan, Evaluación de la eficacia de la lamotrigine en agudo en las GAERS, PhD dissertation, Buenos aires, 1995
  14. ^ Micheletti, G., Vergnes, M., Marescaux, C., Reis, J., Depaulis, A., Rumbach, L., Warter, J.M., 1985. Antiepileptic drug evaluation in a new animal model: spontaneous petit mal epilepsy in the rat. Arzneimittelforschung 35, 483–485.
  15. ^ Micheletti, G., Vergnes, M., Marescaux, C., Reis, J., Depaulis, A., Rumbach, L., Warter, J.M., 1985. Antiepileptic drug evaluation in a new animal model: spontaneous petit mal epilepsy in the rat. Arzneimittelforschung 35, 483–485.
  16. ^ Liu, Z., Seiler, N., Marescaux, C., Depaulis, A., Vergnes, M., 1990. Potentiation of gamma-vinyl GABA (vigabatrin) effects by glycine. European Journal of Pharmacology 182, 109–115.
  17. ^ Danober, L., Deransart, C., Depaulis, A., Vergnes, M., Marescaux, C., 1998. Pathophysiological mechanisms of genetic absence epilepsy in the rat. Prog. Neurobiol. 55, 27–57
  18. ^ Vartanian, M.G., Radulovic, L.L., Kinsora, J.J., Serpa, K.A., Vergnes, M., Bertram, E., Taylor, C.P., 2006. Activity profile of pregabalin in rodent models of epilepsy and ataxia. Epilepsy Research 68, 189–205.
  19. ^ Marescaux, C., Vergnes, M., Depaulis, A., 1992. Genetic absence epilepsy in rats from Strasbourg--a review. Journal of Neural Transmission - Supplement 35, 37–69.
  20. ^ Rudolf, G., Bihoreau, M.T., Godfrey, R.F., Wilder, S.P., Cox, R.D., Lathrop, M., Marescaux, C., Gauguier, D., 2004. Polygenic control of idiopathic generalized epilepsy phenotypes in the genetic absence rats from Strasbourg (GAERS). Epilepsia 45, 301–308.
  21. ^ Powell, K.L., Cain, S.M., Ng, C., Sirdesai, S., David, L.S., Kyi, M., Garcia, E., Tyson, J.R., Reid, C.A., Bahlo, M., Foote, S.J., Snutch, T.P., O'Brien, T.J., 2009. A Cav3.2 T-Type Calcium Channel Point Mutation Has Splice-Variant-Specific Effects on Function and Segregates with Seizure Expression in a Polygenic Rat Model of Absence Epilepsy. Journal of Neuroscience 29, 371–380.
  22. ^ Tsakiridou, E., Bertollini, L., deCurtis, M., Avanzini, G., Pape, H.C., 1995. Selective increase in T-Type calcium conductance of reticular thalamic neurons in a rat model of absence epilepsy. Journal of Neuroscience 15, 3110–3117.
  23. ^ Hughes, J.R., 2009. Epilepsy & Behavior. 15, 404–412.