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TSPO PET upregulation predicts epileptic phenotype at disease onset independently from chronic TSPO expression in a rat model of temporal lobe epilepsy

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Neuroinflammation is a key component of epileptogenesis, the process leading to acquired epilepsy. In recent years, with the development of non-invasive in vivo positron emission tomography (PET) imaging of translocator protein 18 kDa (TSPO), a marker of neuroinflammation, it has become possible to perform longitudinal studies to characterize neuroinflammation at different disease stages in animal models of epileptogenesis. This study aimed to utilize the prognostic capability of TSPO PET imaging at disease onset (2 weeks post-SE) to categorize epileptic rats with distinct seizure burden based on TSPO levels at disease onset and investigate their association to TSPO expression at the chronic epilepsy stage. Controls (n = 14) and kainic acid-induced status epilepticus (KASE) rats (n = 41) were scanned non-invasively with [18F]PBR111 PET imaging measuring TSPO expression. Animals were monitored using video-electroencephalography (vEEG) up to chronic disease (12 weeks post-SE), at which TSPO levels ([3H]PK11195) as well as other post-mortem abnormalities (namely synaptic density ([3H]UCB-J), neuronal loss (NeuN), and neurodegeneration (FjC)) were investigated. By applying multivariate analysis, TSPO PET imaging at disease onset identified three KASE groups with significantly different spontaneous recurrent seizures (SRS) burden (defined as rare SRS, sporadic SRS, and frequent SRS) (p = 0.003). Interestingly, TSPO levels were significantly different when comparing the three KASE groups (p < 0.0001), with the frequent SRS group characterized only by a limited focal TSPO increase at disease onset. On the contrary, TSPO measured during chronic epilepsy was found to be the highest in the frequent SRS group and correlated with seizure burden (r = 0.826, p < 0.0001). Importantly, early and chronic TSPO levels did not correlate (r = −0.05). Finally, significant pathological changes in neuronal loss, synaptic density, and neurodegeneration were found not only when compared to control animals (p < 0.01), but also between the three KASE rat categories in the hippocampus (p < 0.05). Early and chronic TSPO upregulation following epileptogenic insult appear to be driven by two superimposed dynamic processes. The former is associated with epileptogenesis as measured at disease onset, while the latter is related to seizure frequency as quantified during chronic epilepsy.
Journal: NeuroImage: Clinical
ISSN: 2213-1582
Volume: 31
Number of pages: 10
Publication year:2021
Keywords:A1 Journal article