Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Neuroscience and BioMed Central.

Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The effects of glycemic control on seizures and seizure-induced excitotoxic cell death

Paula Elyse Schauwecker

Author affiliations

Department of Cell and Neurobiology, USC Keck School of Medicine, 1333 San Pablo Street, BMT 403, Los Angeles, CA, 90089-9112, USA

Citation and License

BMC Neuroscience 2012, 13:94  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-13-94

Published: 6 August 2012



Epilepsy is the most common neurological disorder after stroke, affecting more than 50 million persons worldwide. Metabolic disturbances are often associated with epileptic seizures, but the pathogenesis of this relationship is poorly understood. It is known that seizures result in altered glucose metabolism, the reduction of intracellular energy metabolites such as ATP, ADP and phosphocreatine and the accumulation of metabolic intermediates, such as lactate and adenosine. In particular, it has been suggested that the duration and extent of glucose dysregulation may be a predictor of the pathological outcome of status. However, little is known about neither the effects of glycemic control on brain metabolism nor the effects of managing systemic glucose concentrations in epilepsy.


In this study, we examined glycemic modulation of kainate-induced seizure sensitivity and its neuropathological consequences. To investigate the relationship between glycemic modulation, seizure susceptibility and its neuropathological consequences, C57BL/6 mice (excitotoxin cell death resistant) were subjected to hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia, followed by systemic administration of kainic acid to induce seizures. Glycemic modulation resulted in minimal consequences with regard to seizure severity but increased hippocampal pathology, irrespective of whether mice were hypoglycemic or hyperglycemic prior to kainate administration. Moreover, we found that exogenous administration of glucose following kainic acid seizures significantly reduced the extent of hippocampal pathology in FVB/N mice (excitotoxin cell death susceptible) following systemic administration of kainic acid.


These findings demonstrate that modulation of the glycemic index can modify the outcome of brain injury in the kainate model of seizure induction. Moreover, modulation of the glycemic index through glucose rescue greatly diminishes the extent of seizure-induced cell death following kainate administration. Our data support the hypothesis that deficient insulin signaling may represent a critical contributing factor in the susceptibility to seizure-induced cell death and this may be an important therapeutic target.

Kainic acid; Excitotoxicity; Glucose; Epileptic seizures; Hypoglycemia; Hyperglycemia; Hippocampus; Mouse strain