Brain Research

Alkaline brain pH shift in rodent lithium-pilocarpine model of epilepsy with chronic seizures

View publication


Brain pH is thought to be important in epilepsy. The regulation of brain pH is, however, still poorly understood in animal models of chronic seizures (SZ) as well as in patients with intractable epilepsy. We used chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) MRI to noninvasively determine if the pH is alkaline shifted in a rodent model of the mesial temporal lobe (MTL) epilepsy with chronic SZ. Taking advantage of its high spatial resolution, we determined the pH values in specific brain regions believed to be important in this model produced by lithium-pilocarpine injection. All animals developed status epilepticus within 90 min after the lithium-pilocarpine administration, but one animal died within 24 hrs. All the surviving animals developed chronic SZ during the first 2 months. After SZ developed, brain pH was determined in the pilocarpine and control groups (n = 8 each). Epileptiform activity was documented in six pilocarpine rats with scalp EEG. The brain pH was estimated using two methods based on magnetization transfer asymmetry and amide proton transfer ratio. The pH was alkaline shifted in the pilocarpine rats (one outlier excluded) compared to the controls in the hippocampus (7.29 vs 7.17, t-test, p < 0.03) and the piriform cortex (7.34 vs. 7.06, p < 0.005), marginally more alkaline in the thalamus (7.13 vs. 7.01, p < 0.05), but not in the cerebral cortex (7.18 vs. 7.08, p > 0.05). Normalizing the brain pH may lead to an effective non-surgical method for treating intractable epilepsy as it is known that SZ can be eliminated by lowering the pH.