Clinical and experimental evidence suggests a role for the cerebellum in seizure control, while no data are available on cerebellar activity between seizures. We hypothesized that interictal regional activity of the deep cerebellar nuclei is reduced in epilepsy and tested this in an animal model by using ΔFosB and cytochrome oxidase (COX) (immuno)histochemistry. The expression of these two markers of neuronal activity was analysed in the dentate nucleus (DN), interpositus nucleus (IN), and fastigial nucleus (FN) of the cerebellum of fully amygdala kindled rats that were sacrificed 48 hours after their last seizure. The DN and FN of kindled rats exhibited 25 to 29% less ΔFosB immunopositive cells than their respective counterpart in sham controls (P < 0.05). COX expression in the DN and FN of kindled animals was reduced by 32 to 33% compared to respective control values (P < 0.05). These results indicate that an epileptogenic state is characterized by decreased activity of deep cerebellar nuclei, especially the DN and FN. Possible consequences may include a decreased activation of the thalamus, contributing to further seizure spread. Restoration of FN activity by low frequency electrical stimulation is suggested as a possible treatment option in chronic epilepsy.
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