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Title: Transcranial focused ultrasound pulsation suppresses pentylenetetrazol induced epilepsy in vivo
Authors: Chen, SG 
Tsai, CH
Lin, CJ
Cheng-Chia, L
Yu, HY
Hsieh, TH
Liu, HL
Issue Date: 2020
Source: Brain stimulation, 2020, v. 13, no. 1, p. 35-46
Abstract: Background: Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by abnormal neuron discharge, and one-third of epilepsy patients suffer from drug-resistant epilepsy (DRE). The current management for DRE includes epileptogenic lesion resection, disconnection, and neuromodulation. Neuromodulation is achieved through invasive electrical stimulus including deep brain stimulation, vagus nerve stimulation, or responsive neurostimulation (RNS). As an alternative therapy, transcranial focused ultrasound (FUS) can transcranially and non-invasively modulate neuron activity.
Objective: This study seeks to verify the use of FUS pulsations to suppress spikes in an acute epileptic small-animal model, and to investigate possible biological mechanisms by which FUS pulsations interfere with epileptic neuronal activity.
Methods: The study used a total of 76 Sprague-Dawley rats. For the epilepsy model, rats were administered pentylenetetrazol (PTZ) to induce acute epileptic-like abnormal neuron discharges, followed by FUS exposure. Various ultrasound parameters were set to test the epilepsy-suppressing effect, while concurrently monitoring and analyzing electroencephalogram (EEG) signals. Animal behavior was monitored and histological examinations were conducted to evaluate the hazard posed by ultrasound exposure and the expression of neuronal activity markers. Western blotting was used to evaluate the correlation between FUS-induced epileptic suppression and the PI3K-mTOR signaling pathway.
Results: We observed that FUS pulsations effectively suppressed epileptic activity and observed EEG spectrum oscillations; the spike-suppressing effect depended on the selection of ultrasound parameters and highly correlated with FUS exposure level. Expression level changes of c-Fos and GAD65 were confirmed in the cortex and hippocampus, indicating that FUS pulsations deactivated excitatory cells and activated GABAergic terminals. No tissue damage, inflammatory response, or behavioral abnormalities were observed in rats treated with FUS under these exposure parameters. We also found that the FUS pulsations down-regulated the S6 phosphorylation and decreased pAKT expression.
Conclusion: Our results suggest that pulsed FUS exposure effectively suppresses epileptic spikes in an acute epilepsy animal model, and finds that ultrasound pulsation interferes with neuronal activity and affects the PTZ-induced PI3K-Akt-mTOR pathway, which might help explain the mechanism underlying ultrasound-related epileptic spike control.
Keywords: Focused ultrasound
mTOR phosphorylation
Publisher: Elsevier
Journal: Brain stimulation 
ISSN: 1935-861X
EISSN: 1876-4754
DOI: 10.1016/j.brs.2019.09.011
Rights: ©2019 Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (
The following publication Chen, S. G., Tsai, C. H., Lin, C. J., Cheng-Chia, L., Yu, H. Y., Hsieh, T. H., & Liu, H. L. (2020). Transcranial focused ultrasound pulsation suppresses pentylenetetrazol induced epilepsy in vivo. Brain Stimulation, 13(1), 35-46 is available at
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